ST Helens Council spent hundreds of thousands of pounds printing millions of pages of paper since 2017-18, it can be revealed.

A freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service shows that 16,090,438 pages were printed by the council between June 2017 and October 2018.

This was made up of 12,811,581 black and white pages and 3,278,857 colour pages.

The ongoing costs for ink, device support and maintenance for these pages, which are charged on a per page printed basis, came to £111,664.

Council leader Derek Long has repeatedly said in recent months that the authority “strives” to be a paperless council.

In October 2018, the council printed out more than one million pages, at a cost of £7,756.

St Helens Council said it is unable to provide details of printer paper costs because it “does not hold the information in an easily accessible way”.

A council spokesman said: “St Helens Council is committed to preventing the use of paper where possible, and has taken steps in recent years to reduce costs.

“For example, meeting agendas and reports are no longer printed off for members and officers who instead view this information electronically.

“The council is a big supporter of recycling and several ‘paper only bins’ are located in council buildings to encourage the correct disposal of paper so that it can go on to be used again – and the council only buys recycled paper.”

In addition to ongoing costs for ink, device support and maintenance, £271,492 was spent on printing hardware in 2017.

Over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 financial years, £75,507 was spent on software.

The council added that it does not hold any data relating to printing costs prior to May 2017 as the previous contract and its data was decommissioned.