A crowd of hundreds swamped Wantage Market Place yesterday in protest of over-development across Oxfordshire.
About 200 campaigners and residents rallied from 11am until 3pm and listened to speeches from each of Wantage’s five election candidates fighting to become the constituency’s next MP.
The official list of candidates was published on Thursday ahead of the elections on May 7.
The protest urged laws to be altered so infrastructure improvements are built before housing developments.
Leader of the Wantage and Grove Campaign group Julie Mabberley said: “It was really busy all morning, we had a couple of hundred people in Market Square.
“We need a lot of infrastructure if we are going to cope with 5,500 to 6,000 houses. So we need schools, we need road improvements, and we need them now.
“These houses are being built but the infrastructure is coming in years. If the developments come without new schools and improvements we will not have children who can go to local schools, they will all have to be bussed out of the area. That doesn’t help us absorb all these people into our local communities.”
Protestors unfurled banners and encouraged residents to sign a petition calling on the planning laws to be updated.
It was the second major event organised by campaign group Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally – the first was held in Witney in January.
Wantage resident of 58 years Derek Verdin said: “Everybody was delighted to hear all these points made publically I think it is a very good idea to hold it as an open air meeting in the town centre, it attracted a lot of people – it has been right in the middle of the community making it very easy for people to listen and come and take part.”
He added: “People are concerned about the extensive developments that are occurring around Wantage – a tremendous amount of house-building without the adequate infrastructure to support it really – roads, doctors surgeries and this sort of thing, so there has been a very strong campaign objecting to this excessive development.”
Mid-way through the rally Wantage’s MP candidates each addressed the crowd in Market Place.
Alex Meredith for the Liberal Democrats, Kate Prendergast for the Green Party, Lee Upcraft for Ukip, Ed Vaizey for the Conservative Party and Stephen Webb for the Labour Party were revealed as the constituency candidates last week.