Roadside litter collections across Northampton have been scrapped for the past two months – so officials could work out if they were safe.
Following a number of complaints from members of the public about the condition of grass verges across the town, Northampton Borough Council has confirmed litter picks were suspended so a health and safety audit could be carried out.
The decision was made after a litter picker was involved in an accident earlier this year.
But the move has been criticised by litter campaigners who have said the town has become a mess while the investigation was carried out.
Brian Skittrall is a member of the Northamptonshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which runs a national anti-littering campaign.
He said: “It’s breathtaking that it takes two months to work something like this out, it’s not exactly rocket science.
“Collecting litter from the side of the road is not dangerous if it’s done properly.
“The Highways Agency manages to do it on motorways and dual-carriageways, so it’s very hard to see why it’s so difficult to do in Northampton.”
Areas of Northampton which have been identified as a problem for litter since the suspension include parts of the A43 and roads around Sixfields.
Mr Skittrall said: “Health and safety is often used as a bit of an excuse, but this sounds pretty hopeless. To spend two months working out how to do something that is done by other authorities all across the country is ridiculous.”
Northampton Borough Council has said the safety review was carried following after an accident involving litter pickers on the A45 about two months ago.
The litter picking crew was from the private company Enterprise, which also collects wheelie bins and carries out street cleaning for the council.
A spokesman for the authority said now the review had been completed, litter collections would be resumed.
She said: “There was an incident a couple of months ago when a crew from Enterprise was cleaning up the verge along the A45. Although nobody was seriously injured a decision was made to suspend any further little picks until we could be sure that all work is done safely.
“The health and safety check has now been completed and work to clear litter from verges can resume.”
Litter picks at the side of busy roads in Northamptonshire regularly result in hundreds of pieces of litter thrown from car windows being picked up. In February last year, workers from Kettering Borough Council picked up 120 bags worth of rubbish from the side of the A43. The following month, the same crews picked up a further 57 bags of rubbish from the side of the A14 dual-carriageway, close to the village of Cranford. In Northampton, residents can report areas which are badly littered or litter bins which are overflowing to Northampton Borough Council’s Street Care team on 0300 3307000.