Election 2015 England

Devizes faces 'huge challenges' ahead of Army influx

The British Army taking part in a training exercise on Salisbury Plain
Image caption Thousands of soldiers and their families will be moving to Wiltshire over the next six years

An influx of thousands of army families into Wiltshire is a huge but highly positive challenge, the election candidates for Devizes have agreed.

Some 4,300 soldiers and their families will be arriving from Germany and other UK bases across the next six years.

However, there is concern that more money is needed to ensure the area can thrive with the increased population.

The five candidates listed schools, housing and public transport among the biggest needs for greater investment.

'More capacity'

Liberal Democrat Manda Rigby told a BBC Wiltshire election debate it would be "quite difficult" to avoid an unhealthy split between military and civilian residents.

She said schools needed "more capability and more capacity" before the first families begin arriving in September.

Claire Perry, from the Conservatives, said the Devizes constituency faces "huge challenges" around schools, healthcare, housing and roads, and it was important to ensure the investment was there.

"Tidworth will probably end up being the biggest town in the constituency once the troops and their families have moved back," she added.

Emma Dawnay, of the Green Party, said Tidworth was in need of "a thriving local community" with more shops, more leisure opportunities and cheaper public transport links to neighbouring towns.

Labour's Chris Watts said the relocation of army families "will have a positive effect on the area" with David Pollitt, of UKIP, praising the boost to the local economy and the "huge amount of planning that has been done so far".

The candidates for the constituency are:

Claire Perry, Conservative

Emma Dawnay, Green

Chris Watts, Labour

Manda Rigby, Liberal Democrats

David Pollitt, UKIP

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