A NETWORK of independent businesses in York is looking for a new leader as its long-standing chairman prepares to step down.

Johnny Hayes wants to hand over the reigns of Indie York and ‘take a back seat’, having been actively involved with the group of indepedent operators since it was founded after the 2015 floods.

The not-for-profit association, which has a constitution and elected committee members, has grown to more than 200 members, who support and promote each other.

The group has a website, www.indieyork.co.uk, with an interactive map, highlighting its members across the city where 65 per cent of the economy is made up of independently-owned businesses.

Johnny, who is credited with making Bishopthorpe Road a national name as Britain’s High Street of the Year, said: “I have been doing this about 10 years. I am theoretically retired but I have never really stopped. I quite fancy taking a backseat but I won’t disappear completely.

“We are looking for someone to throw their hat into the ring as the new chair. We have a steering committee with some really good people - but good people are often busy people.

“I think people are probably hoping I will hang on. I don’t want to leave them in the lurch but I do want to take a back seat. It has been a lot of hard work.”

Asked what was needed for the role, he said: “The primary thing is enthusiasm for the fact that York is such a wonderful centre for independents, and energy and commitment. You are doing your bit to influence York council and the York BID, and create public awareness about supporting the independents. They are the life blood of the city.” We have 200 members. We have lost a few but we have new people coming in. There is a lot of very positive feeling out there. We are much needed at the moment.”

The new chair would have to be a member of Indie York. Visit indieyork.co.uk for details.