A DRIVE to boost York's economic revival post-lockdown has brought together key business organisations in the city.

First York has joined forces with Indie York, York Retail Forum and York BID in a bid to help support and showcase more than 200 independent shops and leisure operators.

The bus operator created the partnership which spans retail, leisure and hospitality to develop ideas and activities to support the city's recovery as the latest exit phase from lockdown gets underway.

Together they hope to encourage local people to rediscover what York has to offer, and promote the message 'live local, spend local, travel local' as non-essential retail opens and outdoor eating in cafes and restaurants resumes.

The timing of the activity coincides with First York increasing frequencies on some city services and Park & Ride.

Marc Bichtemann, managing director of First York, said: “This collaboration is about us all working together to connect local people and communities to the variety of smaller business that are vital to get York thriving and bring the streets of the city back to life.

“We know that York can come back stronger and local people getting out, getting involved and getting to do the things they enjoy will be essential in helping achieve this in the weeks and months ahead.”

A specially-designed livery with the slogan Explore our City has been applied to a low-emission bus being used across First York’s city routes. The company will also be featuring members of the retail groups in its advertising and promotions to help showcase places to visit.

First York is also helping Indie York, the umbrella for more than 200 independent businesses, to produce special shopping bags promoting its network of members and help people find hidden gems.

Indie York chair Rebecca Hill, owner of Galtres Lodge Hotel, said: "Indie York is extremely grateful for the support that First Bus have offered since the Covid roadmap was announced. We represent over 200 independently-owned businesses within the York outer ring road and are delighted to be able to spread the word about the huge choice of products and services from our members."

York Retail Forum will use the partnership to highlight shopping experiences and unusual destinations. Chair, Phil Pinder, of The Potions Cauldron, added: “It is great to see York working together coming out of lockdown, helping people to get back shopping and using our fantastic local bus services to once again discover all our amazing city has to offer.”

Chris Bush, business manager of York BID said: “We’re delighted to be working with First Bus to promote the benefits in supporting local businesses, which have shown great creativity and resilience over the last year. We’re confident that residents will respond and continue to support them as the city opens up once more.”

First York is keen to build its partnerships and involve other social, cultural and sporting life of the city to support York’s recovery. It has a launched a dedicated page on its website to make contact and start discussions https://www.firstbus.co.uk/york/about-us/our-local-partners

Later this month the bus company will also be announcing other initiatives targeted at consumers and businesses as part of its strategy on freedom from lockdown.