PROPOSALS to axe a public payphone could leave residents in a vulnerable position, it was claimed this week.

Bosses at BT are launching a public consultation regarding plans to remove the box next to Largs train station at Hyndman Green.

The community council this week hit out at the move, saying the decision could compromise people's safety.

Member Patricia Perman said: "The decision to remove that particular phone box is just daft. Surely it is most important to have one at the train station and taxi rank?

"What will happen if someone either doesn't have a mobile or it's run out of battery?

"It could leave people in a vulnerable position if it's late at night and they have no means of phoning for a taxi to get home.

"I understand that there are a reduced number of people using public payphones now because of mobiles, but I think this is an important one to keep.

"Perhaps there could be a different one removed in the town which would be a better choice."

Payphones are being considered for removal if there is more than one within an 800m radius or if there has been less than 12 calls in a 12 month period.

Whilst the phone at the train station has made a total of 104 phone calls in the last year, it is not the only one within 800m, with a payphone still in place on Gallowgate Street.

This is part of a wider initiative to cut costs, with 15 payphones set to be axed in North Ayrshire among moves to take away 650 across the country.

The proposal would also see one on the main road through Fairlie removed, after only seven calls were made from the box in the last 12 months.

A BT spokesperson said: "Most people now have a mobile phone and calls made from our public telephones have fallen by around 90 per cent in the past decade.

"We consider a number of factors before consulting on the removal of payphones, including whether others are available nearby and usage.

"The need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is also diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK having either 3G or 4G coverage.

"This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider."

North Ayrshire Council will launch a public consultation which will run for 90 days and allow for residents to share their opinions on the removal of the service.