The Essex authority said the ‘highly regrettable’ situation was the result of an ‘administrative oversight’, stressing that there had been no incident with the vehicles.

The council said a new staff member had undertaken the training and tests to become the qualified transport manager under the terms of the operator’s licence.

It added: ‘Unfortunately, we did not properly regularise our position sufficiently promptly in this interim period and as a result we have now had to submit a new application after our licence was formally revoked earlier this week.’

The authority apologised to residents for the inconvenience and said contingency plans are being prepared so collections can resume.

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