THE county council has admitted it needs to slash its bloated printing budget after it was revealed the authority printed the equivalent of 750 trees last year.

Staff at Worcestershire County Council printed around 12 million pages in the last 12 months – totalling more than £380,000.

Council bosses have admitted they need to put a stop to expensive printing and to push staff to "think before they print."

Andrew Spice, the council’s director of commercial and commissioning, said there was now a “single-minded” focus on convincing the council’s staff to print less.

The council wants to save around £700,000 in the next five years by restricting access to printers, stopping all but essential colour printing and reducing the number of bulky meeting agendas it prints by at least half.

The council could also invest in technology to allow confidential and sensitive data from social services to be e-mailed rather than printed.

The council plans to spend around £73,000 in the next five years – including £20,000 for new tablets and £6,000 for new TVs in all of County Hall’s meeting rooms – to digitise documents as much as possible and stop them from being printed out.

More than a fifth of the council’s printing was in colour – which is six times more expensive than black and white.

The council’s most prolific printers were children’s services and the council’s education services, but not including individual schools, which spent almost £140,000 on printing.

The next biggest printers were adult services who spent just over £130,700 on more than three million pages.

Children’s and education services also spent the most on colour printing - racking up a bill of £70,000.

Councillor Andy Stafford said the need to eradicate printing anything at all should be the council’s “ultimate goal” and should perhaps consider making a “bold statement” and setting a target to go completely paperless.

County Hall had the biggest share of printing followed by the Wildwood building – home to children’s services – which together equated to around a third of all of the council’s printing.

John Gladman, the council’s IT and digital manager, said: “It’s not about reducing the number of printers, it’s about changing behaviour.”