Villagers have been left cut off after crooks snatched 400 metres of telephone cables.

BT Openreach has confirmed copper wiring was stolen from telephone lines in Chapel at some point early last week.

The theft means many residents have been without a landline since Wednesday, September 26.

Those affected by the issue include the village Post Office, and Chapel Church of England Primary School.

Headteacher Julie Ingram said: "The phone lines went down at 2am last Wednesday and the school has been without telephones ever since. We have been told by our provider that the lines will be down until Monday, October 8.

"This is a huge inconvenience for the school as we are having to communicate with people via email.

"At this time of year parents are looking to choose the school their child will attend in September 2019 and they cannot phone to make an appointment to look round."

Openreach says it will replace the stolen cables and have phone lines reconnected before next Friday.

A spokesman added: "We need to put two-way traffic lights in place in order to safely do the work but we hope to have it complete within a week."

Anyone with information about the theft should contact Essex Police on 101.