A firm digging up pavements in Wiltshire with an international labour force has had to give its English-speaking workers hi-vis jackets so concerned residents know who to speak to.

The tabards which identify workers who speak English have been brought in on Virgin Media contracts in the county after talks with Wiltshire Council.

Contractor Avonline Networks is working its way across Chippenham as Virgin brings faster fibre to the area.

But the number of workers for whom English is not their native tongue means residents with questions or concerns over the work can struggle to make themselves understood.

A number of residents in Chippenham have complained to the council or to local MP Michelle Donelan about the pace of the work, with claims that entrances to drives have been dug up or blocked without enough notice.

The council said it had worked with Virgin and its contractors to look at “various ways we could minimise disruption for residents.”

The firms suggested the tabards, and the council agreed as it would help the public to communicate over issues such as the need to move vans.

In letters to residents ahead of the work, Avonline says there will always be an English-speaking supervisor present on site, and where necessary, they will be identified by wearing a hi-vis jacket with ‘English-speaking’ on the back.

Virgin said the move did not reflect a companywide policy, with its contractors employing a diverse workforce for many years.

A statement from the firm said“Working in collaboration with the local council and our contractor, we’ve asked that at least one member of our build team working on site wears a jacket so local residents know who is best to approach should they have any questions regarding the work.”

In posts on Facebook, residents in Chippenham have highlighted language problems.

One woman said there had been no contact from the team on the day of the work in her street because of the language barrier.

“I had a visit from the lead person today and she said we all were notified back in June. She was nice about it but pointed out that the reason nobody came to the door was the fact that the crew don't speak English. You have to find the man with English speaking on the back of his hi vis vest!!!”

A spokesperson for Avonline Networks, a part of M Group Services Telecom Division, said: “It’s important to us to keep local residents in communities where we are working well informed about what we are doing, on behalf of our clients.

"We always strive to keep disruption to a minimum and have taken on board feedback from residents, the local council and our client. We are proud to employ a diverse workforce.”