COUNCIL chiefs say they are working hard to explain the benefits of a new management office and community facility at a York travellers site after facing more 'challenges' by residents.

The complex at Osbaldwick travellers site is being built as part of a controversial expansion of the site from 12 to 18 pitches by City of York Council, funded by the Homes and Communities Agency.

Osbaldwick councillor Mark Warters claimed in May that the foundations had been attacked with pick axes, amid strong opposition to the offices from some residents.

Tom Brittain, the council’s head of housing services, said then that minor damage to a couple of courses of bricks had been reported by the contractor to the police but the incident would not affect the project’s opening.

Now Kate Grandfield, supported housing manager, has told Cllr Warters that while the building works were generally going well, "we have had a few challenges with the community facility - however, we are working closely with the community and the builders on this."

She said the programme was still on time and on budget. "However, there are delays expected as a result of the issues being faced in building out the community facility, as you state," she said.

"The programme is due to end late summer. The Homes and Communities Agency funding is available to be spent up to end of March 2015, so there is no risk to our external funding at this time.

"We have been working very hard with the residents to explain the benefits and values of this facility, as well as stating the fact that it is a certainty that it will be developed, as soon as practical in line with the planning conditions."

Cllr Warters said the 'challenges' to the offices' construction were just another example of the authority 'losing control' of the site, where concerns were raised by residents at a packed public meeting last year about alleged anti-social behaviour, fly tipping, the burning of items and the blocking of a public footpath.

Mr Brittain said: “As confirmed in the letter, the project is still on time and on budget and we are continuing our discussions with local tenants about the benefits of an onsite community centre which includes providing space for private meetings, training or advice sessions as well as on-site management.”