YORK needs a new "flagship" retailer to help maintain its shopping heart.

Other measures suggested in a new report include improved transport for shoppers, including the provision of a "shopping bus" in the city centre, and a review of toilet facilities.

The report also stresses the importance of tackling crime, drugs and antisocial behaviour - and backs a promised review of controversial new parking charges, saying it should take into account their effect on the retail sector and the "evening economy".

The recommendations are from a group of city councillors who have been studying the state of retailing in York, speaking to those who run shops and others with an interest in the sector, including visitors to the city.

The Evening Press reported last month that an earlier draft of the report from City of York Council's economic development and community safety scrutiny board said that feedback from property developers suggested that between 80 and 100 new retailers could be considering relocating to York.

In the final draft report, to be considered by the board on June 22, the first recommendation for future action is that future efforts to establish a large "flagship" retailer should be supported, which it says is backed by many existing retailers because they feel it will increase the number of shoppers in the city and raise its shopping profile. It says this would probably have to be about 100,000 square feet in size and would therefore need a new building, but the report stresses that it is not advocating "a development identical to that previously conceived as Coppergate II".

The report contains 17 recommendations for future actions to ensure the continued retail health of York. These include:

Backing moves to establish a new major food retailer in the city centre

Promoting the diversity and "uniqueness" of York's shops

Reviewing the city centre toilet facilities with a view to "considerably improving" them

Monitoring the number of boarded-up shops in the city

Improving the city's image by reducing the amount of rubbish which can be seen

Encouraging exhibitions of art and culture in the city centre.

The report concludes: "The messages (the board) has received have often been positive, and the city has a lot to be proud of and to promote about itself. However, it is clear that there is room for improvement and that in certain areas there are concerns that York must make changes to avoid becoming less attractive to shoppers."

Updated: 14:43 Monday, June 14, 2004