THE campaign to save York's Mystery Plays won a major boost today with news that City of York Council is backing a comprehensive feasibility study.

Arts expert Ben Pugh, who has organised a number of large-scale events in the city, including Sightsonic and York Music Live, will work with the Mystery Plays working group to see if it will be practical to put on a full-size production in the Museum Gardens in two years' time.

The Evening Press launched a campaign to keep the historic Plays tradition alive, following news that they will not be staged next year in line with a four-yearly cycle. It resulted in the formation of a Plays association, which will aim to stage the Plays again in the Museum Gardens, if possible in 2005.

Keith Wood, chairman of the Mystery Plays working party, said he was "delighted" at today's announcement.

"I'm most grateful to City of York Council, who, in line with their promise, have made available officer time to help with the plays," he said. "I'm confident that Ben will be able to provide the first working document to help us take the project forward.

"Hopefully, it will provide the basis for any decisions or grant applications which will be made in the future."

Peter Boardman, arts commissioner, City of York Council, said: "The council has offered support to the Mystery Plays in terms of staff time and expertise. Ben has a huge amount of experience of organising events in York and this will be invaluable to the working group."

Coun Keith Orrell, executive member for leisure & heritage said: "I want to give all the help and support we can within the very difficult budget situation the council has. Getting Ben to assess the situation in detail is a practical way of looking at the issues involved.

"The Evening Press campaign has helped to galvanise a number of people into action to try to put on a 2005 production. Ben's work should be able to tell us what is necessary to achieve this."