A family of six had to put up with foxes tearing open refuse bags outside their house for weeks after their bin was swallowed by a council bin lorry.

Gregory Dowling, his wife Eleanor and their four children endured foul smells and maggots as sacks piled up outside their home in Pretoria Avenue, Walthamstow, during the August heat wave.

Mr Dowling, a Metropolitan Police worker, was furious when the authority ignored their complaints for weeks.

Mr Dowling, 58, said: “It was such a fuss and it took so long. It was the council’s machine that swallowed our bin, it is not some hi-tech problem. Why did it take so long to solve?

“We had no choice but to put our rubbish bags out in the garden in the heat and we had urban foxes tearing open the bags every night.”

Mr Dowling says he kept trying to contact the council via its website or relevant email addresses but received no reply.

He added: “There is a problem with missed collections along our road anyway.

“Because of Mini Holland half of the road is closed off, so we are constantly ringing the council chasing up asking collectors to come and empty our bins.

“It seems like emails do not get through. I even asked for a council tax rebate because of all of the trouble, but again silence.”

Cllr Clyde Loakes, deputy council leader and cabinet member for the environment, said: “We have received a high number of requests for new bins this summer. Although we aim to deliver replacement bins within 10 days of receiving a request there have been some recent delays owing to the volume of requests, for which we apologise.

“This information has been posted on our website and shared with colleagues in the contact centre to keep residents informed. Anyone requesting a new bin is also sent an email with information about what to do if their collection takes longer than expected.

“Collections would still be taken from properties awaiting a new bin, as crews were instructed to take refuse sacks left for collection at these addresses.

“The backlog of deliveries has now been cleared, so requests for new bins should not be delayed going forward.”