PART of a road in the centre of York has been closed off tonight after a large hole suddenly appeared in the surface.

The problem was spotted at about 6pm today at the corner of Bishopthorpe Road and Scarcroft Road, and police initially placed cones around the hazard to prevent it causing accidents.

The problem began as a small crack in the road which widened as cars passed over it, and it is now about a metre wide and four metres deep. Workers from City of York Council - which has said the hole is "a major collapse" - have arrived at the scene and are assessing the extent of the damage.

The section of Bishopthorpe Road near the hazard is being closed in both directions with immediate effect and traffic will be diverted around Tadcaster Road.

The closure is expected to remain in place for some time, with a spokeswoman for the council saying: "Our main priority is to ensure the safety of residents and commuters".

The pavements in the area around the hole will remain open as work on the damage continues. The cause of the problem and how long it will take to fix are not yet known, but the council has said motorists can expect "significant delays" because of the road closure.