My hon. Friend knows how fast our area is developing. A huge business park is being developed at the Motor Industry Research Association, which is in my constituency and abuts that of my hon. Friend the Minister. He and I have been working over the years to improve the A5, and some major improvements are in the offing. It is, of course, a national road, and an important relief road when there are problems on the M6 and other roads. We will see an improvement in traffic movements generally, and if we are to have that, we need an improvement in how we manage the people who are moving around. When the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 was passed, nobody thought there would be the fluctuations in the patterns of shopping that we see now. We are in a whole new landscape. The world has speeded up—it is completely different since the advent of mobile phones, such as iPhones, and all the electronic media.
Together, clauses 1 and 2 offer a real opportunity for councils to take the views of their local communities into account, while giving them flexibilities where decreases to parking charges can better support the goal of having thriving town centres.
It is important that I mention the support I have received from various organisations. I had some very helpful briefing materials from an organisation that is engaged in and very concerned about parking. My hon. Friends should be aware that the value of UK retail sales in 2015 was £339 billion. That will provide jobs for 3.3 million employees by 2017 in approximately 287,000 outlets. Increasingly, though, the high street has been exposed to intense competition, including the rise of online shopping and increasing use of out-of-town retailers because of the ease with which consumers can use those options.
The point about online shopping is incredibly important. We have seen all the stories in the press about its impact on major stores and how difficult it is for them to fight back. As my hon. Friends from the midlands know, we have there these huge warehouses and distribution centres, particularly where the M1 and the M6 join, and there is also the M69. The middle of England is the ideal place for such centres. In fact, the geographical middle of England is in my constituency, and the Roman centre of England, where the Fosse Way crosses Watling Street, is just outside. That is really important.
Hon. Friends may want to expand on the important point that parking charges are a barrier to regeneration.