SIR - The well intentioned call for free parking to boost city centre shops (T&A, January 8) ignores reality as free parking doesn’t really exist. On street parking removes a traffic lane, bringing traffic to a crawl, putting up road user’s costs and delays. It makes roads less safe.

Off street parking and parking bays have high construction, maintenance and insurance costs. Car users will always find out of town shops easier and less congested.

Boosting city centre shops is best done by bus priority and safer streets. Our city centre streets are already pleasantly low on traffic, but buses, which can bring in 60 shoppers at a time in the road space of two cars, are often held up by congestion on the city approaches.

However, charging by the hour, rather than by the day, does help shoppers and visitors by encouraging commuters to use buses and trains.

Ray Wilkes, Tower Road, Shipley