BOURNEMOUTH council has been accused of "wriggling around the law" by not changing its tourist information signs to reflect new guidance on 0845 numbers.

New Ofcom rules require anyone displaying an 0845 number to give details about the cost of calling this number, breaking this down into an "access charge" levied by the phone company and a "service charge" paid to the organisation they are calling.

Bournemouth's new Wayfinding signs, which were installed across the town centre and seafront earlier this year at a total cost of £967,000, all carry an 0845 number for the town's tourist information line with no information at all about how much a call will cost.

The council originally said it would change the signs but Jon Weaver, head of resort marketing and events, said they had since taken advice and were satisfied the new regulations did not apply to them.

This stance has been questioned by the Fair Telecoms Campaign, who said the council should want to do the right thing by tourists.

David Hickson, of the campaign, said: "It is quite absurd for Bournemouth Borough Council to attempt to serve tourists and to market tourism by collecting 2p per minute from every telephone call – and then wanting to hide the fact.

"Because it uses a ‘service number’, just like chatlines and directory enquiry services, callers also have to pay the special ‘access charge’ set by their own telephone company. For mobile callers, and presumably those wanting this information are not at home, this ‘access charge’ is commonly around 45p per minute.

“Rather than wriggling around the law, the council should simply do what very many other former users of 0845 numbers have done and switch to the equivalent 0345 number."

But Mr Weaver said they had checked with both the Committee of Advertising Practices and Ofcom direct.

"The advice and conclusions from both sources does not require the council to provide additional information about costs for the Tourist Information 0845 number," he said.

"The requirement is aimed at existing 0845 numbers where currently the advertiser states the amount on a BT call but does not state the cost of other operators and mobile phone companies, for example ones you see for entering competitions like X Factor or Strictly.

"CAP guidance also states that public information notices are exempt which covers the Wayfinding information signs."

An Ofcom spokesperson told the Echo: "Companies and organisations that use an 08 or 09 number to be contacted should state the service charge for calling, wherever the number is advertised or promoted. We are in touch with the council to understand the details of this case.”