I agree absolutely. Having been not only in retail for over 30 years, but an avid shopper for over 30 years, I have often visited York, and it is a shame. Shopping centres have their place, but we need to work in partnership to ensure two offers. As I mentioned, these two things are very different—they are almost two defined destinations: one a shopping centre, the other independent retailers with a very different offer.
By giving councils such as Derby the freedom to set parking charges more flexibly, we can enable local knowledge and understanding to have an impact to meet local demand. It is also important that the local authority consults on increasing the parking charges. There needs to be an opportunity to consider whether the increase is correct, and local people and businesses need to be consulted on whether it is appropriate. I acknowledge that the council could still then raise the charges if it chose to, but it is important that people have the opportunity to have that discussion. It means that there would not be any surprises. Businesses and consumers would at least know that the charges were going up and could take note.
I fully support this incredibly sensible Bill. I cannot emphasise enough the need to support these retailers and independent retailers and to encourage entrepreneurship, and parking is such a simple, effective way of encouraging people into our city centres to see the offer available. The Bill is long overdue. In fact, I am surprised it has not been brought forward before because it makes so much sense. These changes will have a positive impact on villages, towns and cities up and down the country.