WORK on expanding a York travellers site was today beginning, with six new pitches being created.

The scheme at the Osbaldwick site will also include a play area, with City of York Council saying the expansion is needed to allow the authority to meet its responsibilities to provide accommodation for travellers due to a shortfall of space.

The plans have sparked fierce local opposition amid claims the site has been badly managed by the council in the past and extra pitches will create more problems.

The authority has borrowed £340,000 for the scheme, saying this will be repaid through additional rent income, with the Homes and Communities Agency providing a £423,500 grant.

The council said a site office will be built for one-to-one meetings, along with training and workshops by officials and other organisations on areas such as education, employment, training and public health.

The land will include several acres of grazing for travellers to rent, with the work being done by contractor Woodhouse Barry. and completed by August.

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for health, housing and adult social care, said: "These pitches are our first steps to easing overcrowding on our sites and meeting the shortfall of 36 pitches in York,"