The borough's green credentials have once again been called into question after figures showed it is being outstripped by its neighbours on recycling.

In 2002 Sutton had the second best recycling figures for the whole of London, with 28 per cent of waste being composted or recycled.

Since then, it has been overtaken by five boroughs, one of which, Ealing, recycled only 15 per cent of waste in 2002. 

Kingston has gone from a figure of 19 per cent - one of the worst - to joint second of the outer London boroughs on 46 per cent. 

Sutton currently ranks tenth across London on 37 per cent, just above the London average of 32 per cent but well below the national average of 39 per cent.

Paul Scully, the Conservative party candidate to take on Paul Burstow at the next election, believes Sutton is resting on its laurels.

He said: "We have been in the 30 per cent bracket now for nearly a decade and things appear to be standing still whilst everyone around us is getting better. This council were seen as the bright young things, but they are ageing rapidly, and they have not kept up."

Mr Scully, former leader of his party in the council, said we need to look at other boroughs and how they encourage recycling.

He said: "Look at Bexley.  They have been top of the table from the start, what are they doing right?  And why are we not opening a dialogue with them to find out?"

Councillor Colin Hall, deputy leader of Sutton Council, said: "Recycling is only one of the tools we employ as part of a sustainable waste management system.

"Recently, our approach has been to develop other areas such as reducing the amount of waste produced by households (we are collecting less this year than last despite housing growth), promoting home composting, working with charities which collect textiles and other materials and looking at the environmental impact of our waste management services and practices."

"Waste management must also be assessed using a range of factors. Recycling is one but value for money and resident satisfaction are just as important. We have very economic services and we also achieve very high resident satisfaction."