Brown Ale maker Scottish Courage has been accused of wasting millions of pounds as it prepares to cut jobs.

The brewer is contracted to rent a depot on Tyneside at a cost of £200,000 a year for the next 20 years - a total of £4m.

But it has never used the plant and is searching for another company to take it on.

The news comes as 110 workers face an uncertain future after ScotCo, the parent company of Scottish & Newcastle, announced plans to close its Newcastle site in November and move to Gateshead as part of a £60m cost-cutting move.

But Scottish Courage bosses signed a 20-year lease on the distribution warehouse in Monkton Business Park, South Tyneside, and only a few weeks later decided to close the operation.

They are now left with a £200,000 annual lease to pay and are looking for someone to rent the building from them at a price of £220,000 a year.

A spokesman for the brewery said the company agreed with developers to have the distribution centre built last year, with plans to move the Tyneside Breweries distribution from Washington, Wearside, to Monkton.

But after the lease had been signed, they decided it was more cost effective to keep the department at its Washington base.

He said: "The building was approaching completion, we signed a lease and therefore it is down to us to find a new tenant. It was more economic for us to stay where we were in Washington, even taking into account that the new building would be empty for a period of time."

Graham Eastwood, of the Transport and General Workers Union, said: "From the union's perspective, this demonstrates very poor forward planning and forward thinking, and it is still costing the company £200,000 a year.

"We are trying to get increases in terms and conditions of employment and the company is saying there is no money."