WITH MORE than seven thousand homes earmarked for the Fareham countryside, avoiding a planning disaster is the key battleground in this fight.

As the borough prepares itself for a population explosion to the north of Wickham, getting the infrastructure right for a proposed eco-town is vital for the prosperity of Fareham.

It is these challenges for roads, schools and amenities that will form the ammunition for candidates ready to try to wrestle the seat from the grip of the Conservatives, who have proved untouchable in the past.

Winning half of the votes in the last election, Mark Hoban is sitting comfortably in his seat, having escaped the expenses scandal relatively unscathed.

The Tory candidate, who has served as Fareham MP for nine years, won 49.7 per cent of the votes in 2005, giving him a majority of more than 11,000 over his closest competitor.

His nearest rival is Labour candidate James Carr, who stood for election in 2005, getting 25 per cent of the votes, with the Liberal Democrats coming in third.

For Mr Hoban the priority is to give the local council and the people the power to decide on planning issues and allow them to have their say.With more housing comes pressure on services and once again people power is the key to getting things right, according to Mr Hoban.

Biology teacher Mr Carr criticises the Tory approach to planning in the past, using Whiteley as an example of how things should not be done.

He believes that the traffic chaos around Whiteley was a failure and is keen for better public transport and wants to fight for a metro system for the whole of the Solent region.

Fighting for the seat for the Lib Dems is veteran Portsmouth councillor Alex Bentley who believes now is the time to get rid of the old system and bring in a fresh crop of MPs who will restore voters belief in politics.

Opposing the eco-town is Green Party candidate Peter Doggett, who is eager to solve what he believes is the roads crisis in Fareham by providing a new and improved cycle network.

Protecting British business and getting people back to work is a pressing issues for UK Independence Party candidate, Steve Richards, as is tougher prison sentences for career criminals.

Also standing in Fareham is Joe Jenkins for the English Democrats.

Additional reporting by Joseph Curtis, Gina Inglis and Ellen Jocelyn.