A £3.6 MILLION expansion of a Gispy and traveller site in Pontypool got the go ahead tonight at an extraordinary meeting of Torfaen council.

At the packed four-hour long meeting members voted in favour of expanding the current Shepherds Hill site in Cwmynyscoy to include an unused football pitch at the Race.

Members of Cwmynyscoy Action Group (CWMnag) turned up in force to protest outside the Civic Centre ahead of the meeting and then filled the public gallery.

The overspill had to watch the live broadcast in the council's ceremony room.

Chairman of CWMnag Adrian Bold challenged the council as to why it had not fully considered an offer from Hill Park Homes to use the Woodlands Road site as an alternative to the development of the Shepherds Hill site.

And ward member Cllr Neil Waite spoke against the move saying: "People of the ward feel discriminated against. They have lived alongside the Gipsy community for a number of years. They wish them no harm and welcome them having better accommodation but do not feel it is appropriate to have another site in the ward."

But the group was left disappointed after the council decided to allocate the land known as the Former Race AFC Playing pitch as a Gipsy and traveller site for 32 pitches in the deposit of Torfaen's Local Development Plan (LDP) as a further focused change.

The council said it needed to address the issues of overcrowding at the Shepherds Hill Site but CWMnag argued the council needed to look beyond the existing site and expand into other wards.

The council-owned site currently has more than 100 residents living on 26 permanent residential pitches for caravans and mobile homes and one transit pitch.

The proposal on the neighbouring Race football field will provide 32 pitches.

There are also plans to build another ten pitches on the privately-owned Rose Cottage Site.

Privately owned Mountain View, also in the Race, currently caters for 20 pitches.

A working group to look at specifics was also set up.