OUTRAGED residents were penned into their own homes as "unannounced" building work began.

Virgin Media engineers moved into Caldecott Chase in Abingdon with diggers and drills, dredging a big trench outside their doorsteps for broadband cables.

Residents claimed they were not warned about the work, which began on Monday.

Oxford Mail:

Peter Delehar, who lives on the estate, said: "I'm angry about their disregard for residents even though we are potential customers. It's disgusting. 

"Nobody was informed. It's annoyed me that there was no consultation. They should have talked to us first so everybody knew what's going on."

Builders were tipping steaming bitumen on top of the cables. 

Mr Delehar, 71, said: "The smell is awful, I can hardly breathe over there."

Oxford Mail:

Although the houses don't yet have broadband, he said he would be surprised if Virgin got custom from his neighbours.

He said: "They can't do what they want – they have a responsibility. It's automatically put me off them. Under no circumstances will I be signing up with Virgin."

A spokesperson for Virgin Media said: "We always aim to notify residents in advance of works taking place in their area. We apologise for any inconvenience and want to thank Abingdon residents for their patience while we carry out these works."

Henrietta Salter-Collins struggled to get her baby's pram out of her front door without it falling into a crevice outside.

The 33-year-old, who lives in the estate with her husband and eight-week-old daughter, said mysterious yellow markings appeared on their doorsteps before Christmas. 

She said: "Nobody knew what they were. The first thing we knew about it was when the trucks arrived.

"For a private company to bowl up and start digging pathways isn't acceptable. 

"If we'd been notified we would understand – we are all quite tolerable round here. I could have made plans for my daughter to stay somewhere else. She isn't sleeping because our dog barks every time the builders make noise."

She said the builders dumped rubble and machinery in their parking spaces.

She said: "They start every morning at 8am on the dot. People are struggling to get out. All day it's an obstruction."

Oxford Mail:

The pathways were private until a few months ago, when Oxfordshire County Council adopted them. 

Virgin had to get the council's permission, rather than the residents', before going ahead. 

Council spokesman Paul Smith said: “In circumstances like it is incumbent on the company involved to inform residents of what work will be taking place and when. 

"We will be reminding Virgin of their responsibilities in this area. A county council highways officer will also be on site to check the work that is being undertaken.”

Councillor Mike Badcock, who represents Caldecott, said at least three residents had contacted him with complaints.