A Cheam woman says she felt compelled to keep bags filled with rubbish in her bath tub after four industrial-sized bins servicing 25 flats were not emptied for three weeks.

Cheam High Street resident Edwina Martin took the drastic step when Veolia waste collectors failed to empty bins after Sutton Council handed over duties to the company on Saturday, April 1.

The 60-year-old, who lives a flat above the Samsara restaurant, said the area she shares with dozens of residents became a ‘health and safety hazard’ before the rubbish was finally collected on Friday, April 21.

She said: “I kept the bags in my bath because I knew the foxes would get into them and rip them open and leave all the rubbish all over the place that would smell, especially when it was hot a couple of weeks back.

“It got to the point where having so many bags in the bins was a health and safety hazard and that’s why I kept them in my house because I didn’t want to add to that.

“The bins need to be collected once a week at least, if we wait as long as we did before then it would become a hazard again.”

Read more: 'You pay more and get less': Prime Minister Theresa May slams Lib Dem Sutton Council’s bin collection scheme

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, claimed he saw rats when he visited the area after business owners raised concerns.

Mr Scully said: “The bins for the flats that are located behind the shops had not been collected for three weeks. There were rats running around the place and some fly-tipping had started there.”

Dozens of householders and landlords approached the Sutton Guardian to say rubbish had not been collected from their communal bins for two or three weeks after the handover.

Read more: 'Carnage' in Sutton as around 1,500 queue for recycling bins outside B&Q

Lynne Harris, Partner at Harris Property Management, claimed bin bags were piled from ‘floor to ceiling’ at a black of 80 flats in Upper Mulgrave Road, in Cheam.

She said: “It was absolutely disgusting. The problem wasn’t with residents who you might think couldn’t be bothered to put them in the bin, there was nowhere else to put them because they were overflowing.

“We have 23 blocks of flats on our books with the majority of it in Sutton and the lack of collections has been an issue at all of our properties and tenants phoned to complain numerous times.”

Read more: Documents reveal action taken by Veolia following chaotic roll out of new bin collection service

In response a Veolia spokeswoman said: “We are working hard with Sutton Council to complete as quickly as possible the transition to the new waste and recycling service, which should result in increased recycling rates.

“We can confirm this collection in Cheam High Street has now taken place and are sorry for any delayed collections experienced by some residents who live in flats during this transition period. We have added extra crews to tackle missed collections and anticipate the issues raised by residents will increasingly become isolated incidents.”