LEGAL action could be taken against an architect or building contractors, following a Cleveland authority's decision to carry out £27,000 worth of remedial paint work to Saltburn's new lifeguard station.

The steel structure was opened last year but is showing premature signs of rusting. It is located near Saltburn beach, next to public toilets, and was funded by a variety of sources.

It is not the new seafront building, which is also metal and has been built nearby.

This week, Redcar and Cleveland Council said the lifeguard station's structural steelwork was showing considerable signs of rusting. There should have been no such rusting for at least five years, it said, if the correct paint-treatment work had been carried out.

Borough councillors gave the go-ahead for remedial paint work and also permitted an investigation into making a legal claim against what was described as the "design and implementation team".

A council spokesman declined to name any companies or individuals involved, but said the authority was studying a number of issues, some of which were internal.

Meanwhile, Coun Ian Jeffrey said: "The building is owned and managed by the council and needs to reflect the investment that's gone into the surrounding area."

The station is used by community safety wardens, plus lifeguards every weekend from spring bank holiday and every day during the summer holidays.

In a document, the council stated: "Representations have been made to the contractors for the steelwork to be properly treated. To date, the contractor has not adequately responded. It is felt the that action needs to be taken to ensure the building is repainted in time for the 2003 season.

"It is estimated that remedial work will cost about £27,000 and it is now considered that the work needs to be done in default.

"A claim will be made against the architect/contractors to recover the costs.

"In the interim, however, the council will need to meet the anticipated costs and if the claim fails, a bid will need to be made to fund the works from the capital programme."

It said repainting would significantly improve the appearance of the building.