SIR: As more and more shops close in Winchester, surely it is time to rethink the nature of our beautiful city. Winchester is relatively small, so it is never going to attract those looking for a day out shopping in the larger branches of well-known stores. However, if it is to concentrate on smaller and more unusual local shops where profits are not going to be high, then surely it needs to lower the rates and rents. Housing may be expensive, largely due to the proximity to London, but that should not be the reason for raising the costs for the shops if we want the city to flourish.

It is similarly hard to understand why increasing the parking costs – and introducing them on Sundays as well – is going to encourage shoppers. Few can afford to live within walking or cycling distance of the city centre, especially in view of the hilly surrounds. For most of the nearby villages the buses are few and far between, so hoping that increased parking will bring people in on the buses, as it might do in much larger cities, is largely unrealistic. It would also help if you could pay at the end of your stay in a car park rather than the beginning. You never think you are going to take as long to shop, and if you have time to browse, or have that unpredicted coffee or lunch stop that helps our city as well!

Please consider the possibility of creating a city of character in the shops, as well as in the beautiful buildings.

Jane Harding,

Back Street,

St Cross,