A virtual York city centre is being created to help the local economy fight back against the threat posed by COVID19.

A website and Facebook page will showcase York's retailers and encourage residents to spend their money with local traders.

The sites also aim to offer a creative space for artists, such as film-makers and singers to do live music streams, enabling them to reach an audience - and potentially still earn money.

Rebecca Fewtrell, a singer and record label owner, is leading a team to launch the virtual city centre venture.

She said the high street had already seen a major slump in footfall, even before the Government told people to stay at home.

Rebecca, who topped the classical charts as an independent artist and founded York Proms summer picnic concert, had the idea when discussing the issue in the local networking group for businesswomen, MPWR.

An independent retailer mentioned that people could still order and pay over the phone, and they would deliver the goods locally.

Currently, takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational and online retail is still open and encouraged, while postal and delivery service will run as normal.

Rebecca said the site aimed to be more than a listings directory. "It needs to be the best possible replication of the beating heart of our city."

"As someone who spent many years as a street performer in York, and around the UK, I learnt a lot about what holds a city centre together and makes it special, makes people want to visit. It’s been a tough time for high street businesses anyway, and this latest crisis is simply heart breaking.”

The website will feature shop pages for retailers. It will also direct people to buy vouchers for restaurants and cafes for use after the crisis has passed to help with their cash flow.

Rebecca said:"We plan to use all relevant modern technology to help bring the community together and create a network of customers and retailers.

"Rather than people automatically going to Amazon or major online shops, I’d like to see people spending their money in the local community, helping to support local jobs and the local economy. Even though people will be concerned about incomes, we will still all need to make purchases, whether it’s a new pair of shoes for your child, a birthday gift for mum, kitchen accessories, clothes, jewellery and much more.”

Rebecca is in talks with local funding bodies and local organisations to help raise the profile of the project.

She has set up a funding page to help raise the start up funds and people can sign up as a customer or request a shop page at www.yorkhighstreet.com.

For details visit yorkhighstreet.com of www.facebook.com/yorkhighstreet