Hull still calling the tune

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THEY'RE VERY particular about their telephones in Hull. It's the only place in Britain to boast a phone system run by the council and where customers can talk all day there for a flat rate of 5.5p.

The formula is so successful that the business, Kingston Communications, unveiled plans yesterday for a partial Stock Exchange flotation.

Hull City Council agreed in February to prepare its telecoms group for a flotation so that it could raise cash to expand its network outside Yorkshire. It is believed the council's stake in the group will fall below 50 per cent, with the flotation valuing Kingston at about pounds 650m. The 200,000 households of Hull will be given priority when it comes to buying shares though they will not get a discount.

The telecoms group, famous for its white-domed telephone booths as well as its cheap local calls (Which? labelled it the cheapest in the business last year) is expect to raise about pounds 150m from the move to help it to develop its network

Hull was one of about 10 cities to set up telephone systems in the first years of this century. After a decade of business, it was the only one of the new networks not to have failed or been bought out. A limited company was formed in 1987 and no cable operator has offered a challenge.

"There's a different phone culture in Hull," said a spokesman yesterday.