TAXPAYERS are facing a bill of nearly a million pounds amid fears over safety at a Hampshire business centre.

Up to £900,000 needs to be spent on Wessex House in central Eastleigh after a recent inspection revealed “major concerns” about its condition.

Much of the building’s external brickwork needs to be replaced and scaffolding has had to be erected to stop debris falling on to the pavement below.

It comes just a year after civic chiefs gave the nod to a sparkling £710,000 revamp of the building’s entrance area.

And council staff have just moved into next door Eastleigh House, which has itself undergone a major £12m refurbishment.

The move came after 38 years in the purpose-built Leigh Road civic offices, which are now due to be demolished.

Wessex House has been under the ownership of Eastleigh Borough Council for a number of years as a flexible base for businesses.

Firms are able to come and go from the facility at short notice and have the use of affordable office spaces.

Godfrey Olson, leader of Eastleigh Borough Council’s opposition Conservative group, said of the huge repair bill: “I am surprised and disappointed that it has been allowed to get in to this state. I thought it was being properly managed.

“I think this can be one of the problems of being a landlord. What is needed if you have property is that the maintenance is kept up to standard – even when you are letting the property.”

A report due to go before the council’s cabinet says the work should be completed by the end of the financial year 2014/2015 and that scaffolding was already up to minimise the risk of “falling debris”. Cash for the project will come from borrowing.

A Council spokesperson told the Daily Echo: “The council is continuing its commitment to business by investing in the facility and carrying out these works now for the benefit of local businesses.”