Bin collections have been missed for up to four weeks in a row after Barnet Council made sweeping changes to refuse routes.

Residents complained of overflowing waste bins and raised health and safety fears as rubbish continued to pile up.

People also reported problems trying to contact the council to report missed collections.

Barnet Council rolled out changes to bin collection routes on November 4 in a bid to make the service more efficient and save £600,000 over three years.

Stephen Rayner, who lives in Randall Court, Mill Hill, said the situation seemed like “absolute chaos”.

He said: “We had our waste collected on October 31, but it wasn’t collected the following week.

“The bins were overflowing.

“I know people in other areas have had problems. Barnet have said they have got teething problems and bins are not being emptied.

“It seems like absolute chaos.”

Mr Rayner added that he and the other 23 flats in his block had not received any information about the collection changes from the council.

He said: “Part of the problem is trying to contact Barnet Council. If you get through to anyone, they say ‘you need to go through to the waste department’.

“But then you get a recorded message saying ‘we are having difficulty’, and you are cut off at the end of it.

“It is frustrating as a council tax payer.”

John Trayner, who lives on Squires Lane, Finchley, said: “We had two missed collections and were left with three weeks’ worth of rubbish.

“Trying to get through to anyone in the council is impossible. You just get a recorded message saying that they are having problems but the bins will be collected.”

Mr Trayner said his bins were finally collected on Thursday (November 22) and he hoped the situation was now back to normal.

He added: “There are just two of us – but a lot of people on this street are young families, so it is a bit of a problem.”

People also took to social media to vent their frustrations.

Twitter user Paul Finney tweeted: “We’ve been waiting for the dustbins to be collected for four weeks – the street looks like a good place for rats to move in.

“It’s a bit rubbish – pun intended – to be ignored week after week.

“Keep Barnet tidy please – empty our bins.”

Mark Currie added: “Come on Barnet – my recycling bin is overflowing and hasn’t been emptied for two weeks.”

Georgina tweeted: “Bins out and uncollected on correct day for the fourth week – #useless”.

Cllr Richard Cornelius, the leader of Barnet Council, has written a letter apologising for the problems the changes have caused.

He said: “I would like to apologise to those residents who have been affected by the reorganisation of the bin collections. This has meant that a number of residents’ bins have not been collected as expected.

“The current rounds are 15 years old and do not reflect changes in Barnet over recent years.

“Changing them and making them more efficient means we can plan to collect almost all of our bins during the week, eliminating the need for garden bins to be collected on a Saturday.

“We’re working to get it right and I believe we have turned a corner – and that we will start to start to see an improvement in the service this week.”

See the letters page for the full statement from Cllr Cornelius.