Residents fumed after three dustcarts were damaged by rats which had chewed through wiring, leaving hundreds of streets littered with rubbish.

Braintree Council has apologised after its collection schedule over Christmas and New Year was disrupted by a series of “freak” vehicle breakdowns.

The council has since confirmed that three dustcarts had to be taken off the road following damage caused by rats, while there were further breakdowns when spare vehicles were drafted in.