COUNCIL chiefs spent more than £1.5million on subscriptions, private healthcare, printing and the Chelmsford Park and Ride scheme last year.

The Weekly News can reveal Essex County Council bosses splashed hefty sums of taxpayers’ cash on the areas deemed to be unimportant.

Between April 2013 and January 2014, the council spent:

• £623,976 on printed publications

• £408,000 on the Chelmsford Park and Ride scheme, which is only forecast to break even in 2014/15

• £285,000 for private healthcare for employees who earn at least £46,000 per annum

• £221,563 on annual subscriptions to the Local Government Association

Opposition councillors slammed the expenditure during a time when the authority is looking make multi-million pound savings.

Lib Dem group leader Mike Mackrory, ward member for Springfield, said: “There needs to be a long hard look taken by the council over this type of expenditure.

“Out of these figures I think the private healthcare bill is totally out of order in view of current circumstances as this is a sort of luxury that we can no longer afford.

“The publication expenditure also seems excessive for what essentially is self promotion.”

Bosses at the council said the private healthcare is a “highly valued” tool which is used to help recruit and retain top level staff at County Hall.

They also said being an LGA member allows them to work with other authorities to share knowledge and skills to make improvements to services.

Council leader David Finch added the spending on printing and park and rides in Chelmsford was important.