DOZENS of pay phones could be removed across south Cumbria, sparking concerns it could leave elderly people in trouble.

BT is currently running a 90-day consultation about the potential removal or ‘adoption’ of 76 BT payphone kiosks across South Lakeland.

The current stance of South Lakeland District Council is that none of the payphones should be removed unless residents actively agree. to its removal or a community would like to adopt the phone box and change its use.

Figures released by BT reveal the phone at Ulverston railway station was the most used in the district in the past 12 months with 179 calls made.

David Webster, councillor for Ulverston East, said: “There are people who don’t have a mobile and it will be a struggle for them.

"They are being removed due to a lack of usage, but people are using them, especially older people who don’t own mobile phones. I think they should remain.”

The majority of the 76 phones proposed to be removed saw fewer than ten calls made in the last year.

Lakes Parish Council said it would oppose BT's proposed closure of payphones and members felt particularly strongly about the well-used ones outside The Swan and in Red Lion Square, Grasmere, and at Skelwith Bridge, Troutbeck Institute, Rydal and other places where mobile coverage was poor. Payphones had already been removed from Elterwater, Langdale and Little Langdale where there is no mobile coverage.

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. We are consulting with South Lakeland District Council on the removal of 76 phone boxes in the area, providing the community the chance to comment on our proposals.

“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.”