Merton Council has come under fire for reducing street cleaning in town centres on Sundays - while spending nearly £130,000 a year on four environment enforcement officers.

Sunday street cleaning in Mitcham, Wimbledon, Colliers Wood and Morden during the day was cut in October in a money-saving move not likely to win the council much support after residents voted street cleanliness their number one concern in the council's latest survey.

The cuts were caused by a £1.2m overspend in the environment and regeneration department but there is still a night time shift on Sunday from 8pm to 4am.

Shas Sheehan, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Wimbledon, said: "The effects of Merton's litter problem are huge.

"It's extremely short-sighted of Merton Council to cut corners on street-cleaning and I think the issue will come back to bite them."

The cutbacks come as a Freedom of Information Request revealed the council is spending nearly £130,000 a year on environment enforcement officers who issue fines to litter louts and fly-tippers, remove graffiti and deal with abandoned vehicles.

But Councillor Judy Saunders, cabinet member for environmental cleanliness and parking, insisted Merton taxpayers are receiving good value for money.

She said: "We are committed to keeping Merton clean by fining the small minority of people who drop litter on our streets and by having teams of street cleaners who sweep the streets and empty bins in our town centres with an on-demand bin emptying service on Sundays.

"We spend £5 million every year clearing rubbish from our roads, which, especially in the face of having to make significant cuts across all services, is money we would rather spend on things that would benefit residents more."

Merton also pays for four full-time "environment enforcement specialists" contracted through Kingdom Environmental Protection Services.

Coun Saunders said: "The costs for working with these specialists are covered through the fixed penalty notices they issue so this service is cost neutral - a good deal for the tax payer."

Councillor David Dean, Merton Conservatives' environment spokesman, said: "The council's own residents survey picks up that people are very concerned with Merton's dirty streets.

"This needs a four-stage approach. Firstly, a 'don't drop litter' message. Secondly, plenty of bins in the right places. Thirdly, enough street cleaners to keep street cleans and lastly, enforcement.

"Stages one, two and three are sadly amiss. There are now less bins and less street cleaners with further cuts next year."

Andrew Boyce, who is organising a community clean-up in South Wimbledon this weekend, said: "The council website says it cleans the streets x number of times a week but if you look around there are instances of fly-tipping which go unnoticed for 10 days and I think if people clean the streets x number of times, how can they not see this?"

The council employs 103 people across its street-cleaning services.

A council spokeswoman said town centres and areas around shop fronts are swept daily from 6am to 2pm by manual sweepers with some help from mechanical sweeping machines.

In Mitcham, Wimbledon, Colliers Wood and Morden town centres there is also evening cleaning until 10pm and a night time shift from Wednesday to Sunday from 8pm to 4am.

On average there are two street sweepers to cover each residential ward area and all residential roads are cleaned up to twice a week where required.

Do you think the council should have reduced Sunday street cleaning? Comment below, or email