AN angry councillor has hit out at council bosses for trying to cut a vital meals-on-wheels service for the elderly ... while scoffing £68,000 of free meals at County Hall.

A price hike for daily meals, from £3.95 to £4.79, could be implemented if Essex County Council decides to withdraw its subsidy.

The Conservative-run Essex County Council has started a consultation with more than 1,000 users of the hot food service.

The move would mean the council no longer subsidising the service, leaving some vulnerable elderly residents £218 a year worse off.

It comes as a Freedom of Information request reveals that over the past two years £68,549 has been spent giving free meals to councillors at County Hall.

Ivan Henderson, county councillor and leader of Tendring Council’s opposition Labour group, said the move would hit the elderly hard and called for the subsidy to stay.

He said: “This is happening at a time when cabinet members making these decisions are here in County Hall almost every day eating free meals.

“How can you carry on doing that when you are considering cutting the subsidy for elderly people’s meals?”

Social care boss Ann Brown said: “I am aware that, for some residents, meals-on- wheels is a vital service.

“However, as alternative options have appeared in the market, the number of customers have fallen, which means it is difficult to continue to provide the service in its current guise and provide value for money for taxpayers.”