"Where can I get an old bathtub I can fill with custard?" - that is a genuine question fielded by reception staff at Sutton Council.

The odd enquiry has been revealed alongside a range of other unusual requests made to staff at reception front desks around the country.

The bathtub hunter is thought to have been taking part in a charity event involving someone bathing in custard.

The strange request was revealed alongside a range of others by the Local Government Association (LGA) in an effort to raise awareness of the work front-line council staff do.

Among the peculiar calls in the LGA's top 10 was one made to Reigate and Banstead Borough Council by a man who wanted to know the regulations on keeping a crocodile in his back garden.

The same council also took a call from someone who wanted to know how long to leave an egg under a lamp for in order for it to hatch. A caller to Surrey Council complained they had been trying to phone a library on 0900 1800 but was not getting an answer only to be told they had been dialling using the library's opening hours.

Councillor Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA's improvement and innovation board, said: "These light-hearted examples show the wide range of issues council staff deal with each day. Councils literally have to be ready for anything from the serious to the mundane and sometimes even mind-boggling.

"Councils try to help callers with support and advice as much as they possibly can. While the vast majority of calls fall within the bounds of councils' usual responsibilities, there are occasions when call handlers are left baffled.

"The fact that councils are so often the first port of call for residents who are seeking a solution to their problems shows just how central a role councils play in the lives of their communities. While councils offer more than 800 local services, some requests really are beyond them."