Local authorities have come under fierce criticism during the week for their handling of the unusual weather, as roads became impassable, transport services were cancelled and bin rounds were missed.

The worst of the weather at the beginning of the week hit London and the south east, where residents experience the heaviest snow fall for 18 years.

Westminster City Council was one authority that was forced to suspend collections and staff were redeployed to grit roads and clear snow for the day.

Epsom, in Surrey, saw one of the largest snowfalls in the country, forcing the council to suspend all domestic refuse and recycling collections for the week.

Residents were told up to three bags of excess rubbish and recycling would be collected the following week.

Councillor Paul Bettison, chair of the Local Government Association’s environment board, defended local authorities, saying collections were only a day or two behind in most areas, just as they would be if there had been a bank holiday.

“Councils have been collecting residents’ bins as normal, wherever possible,” he said. “In some areas the snow and freezing temperatures earlier in the week meant that people’s safety could have been put at risk if dustcarts were driving around in dangerous, icy conditions.”

As the week went on, heavy snowfall swept across the country. On Thursday it was the turn of areas such as Gloucestershire, the Midlands and Wales to suspend their bin collections amid safety fears.

Sheffield was one of the areas badly hit by snow at the end of the week. Martin Simpson, managing director for the city’s waste collectors Veolia, thanked residents for their patience and praised his staff.

He said: “They already have a difficult job, which presents increased risks when there is ice and snow.”

Kate Martin

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