The Lord Mayor of York tested out his "green fingers" by helping to plant the first of the city's summer hanging baskets for one of the city's leading multiple stores, WH Smith in Coney Street.

The baskets are part of the York In Bloom initiative, organised by York Business Pride as part of a major project to improve the city at street level.

Businesses in the city centre are being invited to sign up to the scheme.

For £45, plus VAT, they will receive a filled 16in hanging basket, which will be watered, fed and maintained by the city council's commercial services team over this summer's 20-week period.

More than 60 baskets have already been ordered by a wide range of businesses in the city centre, including premises in Micklegate, Fossgate, Clifford Street and Goodramgate.

The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Charles Hall, said: "I hope that York's business community will get behind York In Bloom to ensure that the city looks at its best for residents and tourists alike throughout the summer."

Diana Golding, of York Business Pride, said: "We are delighted that businesses such as WH Smith are supporting this initiative at what is a difficult time for them. They recognise that schemes like this, which enhance the attractiveness of York, are essential to increase footfall across the whole city."

Updated: 10:52 Monday, May 03, 2004