THERE appears to be no end in sight to the fiasco of a Taunton building that has never been used wasting £2 million of taxpayers' money every year.

There are fears the Government may be unable to offload the 'white elephant' premises on Blackbrook Business Park, with the final bill potentially escalating to £40 million.

Several organisations have been offered hefty 'sweeteners' to take the building, originally intended as a regional fire control centre, off the Government's hands, but so far there are no takers.

The bill is believed to have already topped £20 million, rising by £1.9 million annually and set to double to £40 million by the time the lease ends in 2027.

The Department for Communities and Local Government told the Gazette a year ago it was in "active discussions" and had made "significant progress with prospective occupants".

There was a similar message this week from its spokesman, who said: "We're currently negotiating a deal with a potential occupant.

"Hopefully, we'll get someone into it soon, but it's commercially sensitive.

"I am unable to say whether it is the same people we were speaking to last year."

But Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow is less hopeful, saying: "We thought we had somebody interested, but it all fell through.

"We're tied into the lease negotiated under the Labour government, whereby the building has to be maintained at certain conditions and certain temperatures.

"It's an absolutely ridiculous situation and the building isn't fit for anything except a fire HQ.

"Everyone who looks at possibly renting it comes to the same conclusion - they can't afford it.

"If somebody wanted the building, the Government would definitely help to enable it to at least save the taxpayer some of the money being paid each month."

The building - one of nine nationwide - was supposed to employ 100 call handlers fielding 999 fire calls from seven South West bridges from 2009, but it was scrapped as unworkable.

The ongoing monthly bill of around £150,000 for rent and costs for security and maintaining equipment that has never been used.

Among problems encountered were computers unable to handle house numbers above 99, mapping systems using French spellings and £6,000 coffee machines and £4,000 sofas.

Anyone taking on the centre would probably be offered a lengthy rent-free period and a huge rent subsidy afterwards.

Dia Chakravarty, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This raises some serious questions which the authorities must answer.

"Has anyone been held to account for this shambolic situation?

"The sheer scale of waste is staggering which will leave taxpayers incensed, particularly at a time when every department is having to find necessary savings.

"The authorities need to free us from this costly mistake as hard-pressed families simply cannot afford to have nearly £2 million of their hard-earned cash going to waste every year for the next decade."