NEW technology will be used to track footfall in the city centre - using GPS tracking and credit card data.

The measures could see anonymised data collected from anyone visiting the city centre to find out where they come from, how much money they spend, where they go and what they think about York.

The new system would comply with privacy guidance from both the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.

Cllr Andrew Waller said this could help attract new businesses and judge if events have been successful.

But he added: "I have had representations from residents who are concerned about the gathering of data and I myself raised a few eyebrows about what data there is available and, in other places, is being collected without our knowledge."

He said that - as long as the scheme meets official guidelines and is thoroughly examined, residents and visitors can be reassured that a "big brother society" has not been created.

Simon Brereton, the council's head of economic growth, told the meeting: "The monitoring of how many people are in the city centre is a really important indicator for the council.

"We've been collecting data for about 10 years now through Springboard, a specialist provide.Over those 10 years technology has moved on considerably.

"In collaboration particularly with the Business Improvement District we've been thinking about actually whether we might be able to produce a more useful, deeper level of intelligence around of how our city centre is doing and how people are using it."

A council report says the new software could involve using information from people's mobile phones, wifi networks, Visa credit card systems and GPS - as well as the existing footfall counters.

Bath has already rolled out a high-tech system, according to the report, and it has had a "positive effect" on shops.

It says the Bath branch of L'Occitane used the data to get to the second highest ranked store in the country - and it has helped the city create targeted promotional campaigns.