'FURIOUS' villagers are facing 'traffic chaos' after Thames Water shut off one of the main spine roads in and out of the area for more than two months.

Drivers are being forced to take what they say is a 10-mile detour around Ambrosden and Merton, near Bicester, after the Merton Road closed on Monday for Thames Water works.

But villages say they have had little communication about the closure from the firm and fear poor planning is causing dangerous driving from motorists heading the wrong way down one-way streets nearby.

Ambrosden Parish Council chairman Mark Longworth, described the works as 'absolute traffic chaos' and said: "In June residents of Ambrosden were notified of some planned road works, but these did not happen.

"A couple of weeks ago most residents received another letter only giving two weeks notice of a 10-week rolling road closure of Merton Road.

"Now the only way into Ambrosden or Merton, from Bicester is a 10-mile diversion via the A34 and Islip or via Arncott and Charlton on Otmoor, or for a few weeks through a private MOD estate in Ambrosden.

"Today cars have been driving the wrong way down one way streets in the village, there have been insufficient road signs, school busses and public buses have been cancelled.

"Villagers are furious."

Mr Longworth added that some residents have even been told by contractors they are unable to park on their drives during the works, despite letters saying otherwise.

Parish Council chairman for Merton Rachel Foord added: "This road closure in Ambrosden will mean that from end July to end of December, Merton residents will have had 16 of the 20 weeks when they have been unable to leave the village either towards Islip [a six-week summer closure] or towards Bicester [the latest 10-week closure].

"Merton residents have had to double the lengths of their journeys and its been a huge surprise and generated much anger in Merton that we had no communication - we found out from Facebook."

Residents say the closure has impacted school bus runs, and prohibits access to local shops for many of the elderly because of increased taxi fares.

Joining those concerned was resident Paul Davenport, who said: "Drivers routinely turn from Ploughley Road into Old Arncott Road. This is a one way street.

"The signage is not placed in such a manner that it is easy for drivers to be made aware of this fact. I almost was hit by a car that turned into the street at speed while I was out jogging."

Another resident Dawn Davis called for it to be looked at as a matter of urgency as she said it has become dangerous for people along Old Arncott Road.

Thames Water spokesman Miles Evans said: "Our work on Merton Road is essential to ensure a reliable water supply for our customers into the future.

"By replacing old iron pipes with tough, new, plastic ones, we’re reducing the chance of needing to carry out emergency repairs in the future.

"We had hoped to start this work in July, but had to reschedule to allow for important local bridge repair work.

"We’ve written to those customers affected and have a clear road diversion signposted."

The water company added road will gradually reopen as the work continues, but did add that its website had not been updated to say the road would not be opened during peak hours.

Despite concerns over villagers driveways Thames Water also said vehicle access to customers properties is being maintained.

Oxfordshire County councillor for the area Dan Sames added: "It is all very well Thames Water HQ saying one thing but it needs to ensure the contractors are implementing this, otherwise it quickly becomes a problem.

"They need to make sure there is adequate sign posting in place and people are receiving adequate updates on the work."