CREATING well paid, secure jobs in York should be an urgent priority, according to a councillor.

The Labour group says median wages in the city have increased by just £4 since 2016 - compared to £22 for Yorkshire and the Humber and £30 nationally.

Cllr Claire Douglas said the city’s tourism sector means there are many jobs in cafes, bars and restaurants but that “we don’t have to accept jobs in these sectors will be low paid and insecure”.

She added: “I want city leaders across the council and the business community to come together, develop a plan and take action to reverse the downward trend.

“We need to see real terms wages rising in York if we have any chance of tackling in-work poverty in our city and ensuring all our residents have a decent standard of living.

“When you factor in York housing costs, the problem is many times worse.”

In January a report revealed that York saw the biggest drop in average weekly salaries in Britain between 2017 and 2018 - from £514 per week to £449.

The average weekly wage last year put York among the 10 cities with the lowest weekly workplace earnings in the country.

But Cllr Douglas said some employers, such as high street entertainment shop Richer Sounds, have committed to paying staff the Living Wage and the company also refuses to use zero hour contracts, has a gender pay gap favouring women and is currently transferring ownership of a majority of the business to its staff.

She added: “It may not be possible for every organisation but I think there will be plenty of businesses that could commit to such a pledge without huge difficulty.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Waller agreed that creating well paid, secure jobs in the city is a challenge and one that senior councillors hope to tackle.

He said: “As Cllr Douglas has already highlighted, the nature of York’s successful visitor economy has meant that there is a high number of jobs in both the hospitality and tourist sector.

“We fully recognise that this is a challenge for the city and in response, we have invested significantly in a number of major programmes, such as York Central and Castle Gateway, to attract high-value jobs to the city. The Lib Dems are determined to continue building a strong and inclusive local economy and whilst unemployment is considerably low in York, we want to do more to improve the earning potential of all our residents and improve quality of life.”

The council will finalise its new economic strategy soon.