The German who claimed asylum: Councils reveal their weirdest calls

By Ian Dunt

From residents asking if they can roll up zebra crossings to requests to register the death of living people, local councils have published their weirdest requests from residents.

The list – an attempt to introduce the public to how many varied and bizarre demands are placed on local councils in the course of a single year – reads more like a Monty Python sketch than a day-to-day account of local government.

In Northumberland, a German man went into the customer services reception area declaring he wanted political asylum. He refused to leave despite staff explaining that people who live in Europe are free to come and go as they please, and the police had to eventually be called.

A motorist who discovered her car was in a different parking spot when she returned from a shopping trip rang Sutton council to ask if the car park was haunted, while another resident enquired whether he could put a dead fox in his recycling bin.

One caller to Ceredigion council asked what time the dolphins in Cardigan Bay “start”, while a caller to East Dorset district council’s Tourist Information Centre demanded an explanation of the plot of ‘She Stoops to Conquer’.

“These examples show just how broad a range of issues council staff deal with each day,” said Baroness Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA).

“Councils literally have to be ready for anything from the mundane to the mind-boggling.”

Council customer service centres handle more than 50 million calls each year.