"The bins are disappearing."

That's what Merton man Mark Gale thinks at least after noticing a few less of them around town than usual.

"I don't see a reason the council would be taking bins away, but there just seem to be less and less recently," he said.

"There were a few that I noticed hadn't been emptied for weeks on end so I reported it. Next thing I know the bin was gone."

One example he pointed to was the bin on the corner of Bardney Road and Aberconway Road, which he said was a victim of the apparent cull.

But the council has denied they are getting rid of the bins.

"The council has not removed or authorised the removal of any bins from the streets," a spokeswoman said.

"In our parks we have removed two bins due to inaccessibility and replaced another with a big belly bin which is a hi-tech unit that uses solar power to compact litter, thus holding up to eight

times more litter than a normal bin."

The council also revealed just how much it costs to clean up rubbish off the streets.

"As a nation we are currently facing a ‘litter epidemic’ spending almost £850 million a year to keep Britain tidy," the spokeswoman said.

"We spent almost £5m last year on clearing up after people who drop litter and fly tip on Merton streets.

"We want to encourage our residents to dispose of their litter responsibly and have provided over 900 litter bins in the streets and over 400 in our parks."