MARKET traders were sent mobile phone text messages today -- checking they know their multiplication from their minus.

Maths questions and brain teasers were sent to more than 200 stall holders in Blackburn and Darwen from council education bosses in a bid to boost their numeracy standards.

Questions ranged from: If you needed to total amounts of 70p, £1.70, 30p, £1.25 what order would you add them? to: Do customers check their change?

It is the first project of its kind in the country to put market traders on the spot and hopes to play a part in developing a whole range of business skills.

Peter Morgan, director of education and lifelong learning, said: "We have already done programme work with market traders.

"Through it, we realised that there were additional numeracy issues that needed to be addressed.

"They have to deal with money all the time.

'That's not just interacting with customers, but when they are working out their tax returns."

The initiative is part of Learning at Work Day organised by the national charity Campaign for Learning.

Raymond Goldstone, 64, of Astley's Footcare and the Ballet shop, said: "The courses have been really helpful.

"I use mental arithmetic a lot and tend to round up the even numbers first. It is easier to use the calculator and the till, which means that we don't get any better."