A POLITICAL row has broken out over claims the cost of moving a Hampshire council’s headquarters could spiral past £12m.

Plans are afoot to move Eastleigh Borough Council from its current Leigh Road base to a more accessible town centre location– most likely to be Eastleigh House.

The authority’s Liberal Democrat leader Keith House says the 1970s Civic Offices have become an “environmental disaster” and that revamping would cost more than moving.

But his Conservative counterpart Godfrey Olson says Leigh Road could be updated “for a modest sum”.

He claims the building was bought for close to £5m and moving the hundreds of council staff and refurbishing the new home would cost millions more.

Cllr House says the project would end up being “cost neutral” for the taxpayer – especially once the Leigh Road site is sold.

It is the latest spat to unfold between the two parties as tensions mount ahead of May’s local elections. Around a third of the council’s seats are up for grabs.

Cllr Olson said: “The present offices were only opened in 1976 and whilst the administration says they are not fit for purpose, with a minimum amount of work relatively, they could be made fit for purpose.

“It is already an idyllic location for working and visiting – the staff have nice surroundings in which to work and large car parks. If we move in to the centre, it will cause congestion and there will be no parking spaces.

“It could all cost £12m and it would not surprise me if it works out to be more in the end.”

Cllr House has always maintained that the move makes sense adding that the Tory group leader was being “selective” with his figures.

“The move to the town centre will be cost neutral for the council when compared with the cost of making the old building fit for modern purposes,” he said. “The sale of the existing site, which will allow for more productive use of the site, will save further greenfield space been needed for new development. “We will also be closer to good public transport links and will draw more people into the town to use other services and shops.”