THE leader of the council in York has written to children at a York primary school backing their campaign for the city’s first community shop.

As reported last week, pupils at Westfield School in Acomb are writing to the Archbishop of York, City of York Council leader James Alexander and the council’s chief executive, Kersten England, to seek their backing for the idea.

They want to set up a shop somewhere in the Westfield ward where supermarkets and other retailers could provide surplus groceries to be redistributed far more cheaply to people struggling to make ends meet.

Westfield head teacher Tracey Ralph said the York project was just an idea at this stage, but hoped the school’s links with York Cares – a partnership of the city’s leading firms committed to making a difference through employee-volunteering – would help to get things started.

In his reply to the children, Coun Alexander writes: “The council is part of a city-wide partnership committed to getting rid of poverty in York and we are investing in projects and ideas to achieve this together.

“The recently opened Barnsley community shop was an excellent idea and we are talking to Barnsley about their experiences.

“We understand that the Barnsley shop is a pilot project, but that The Company Shop, the organisation behind this, is looking to open more shops like these. We are looking for York to be considered for this scheme also.

“It feels right that a shop like this is run by a social enterprise with experience, rather than run solely by the council. This will mean that partners across the city can use their skills to be involved in shaping and supporting the offer, to meet our city’s community needs. We are already talking to our partners about this.”

The council’s chief executive, Kersten England, has also replied to the children. Ms England said: “It’s encouraging to receive these letters from pupil’s at Westfield and I want to thank them for taking the time to write to us with their well-considered views.

“They detail very real issues that many support agencies across the city are currently trying to tackle. For our part, the council is working hard with partners across the city – and within communities - to ensure we support the most vulnerable and find solutions to the issues that they face.”