VANDALS have defaced a parade of shops in protest against the multi-million pound redevelopment of Botley’s shopping centre.

Unrest has grown in the village since developers Mace announced last month it was going to demolish the current West Way Shopping Centre in one go.

And residents were dismayed to find on Sunday morning two messages scrawled in blue paint across the historic Elms Parade, which dates back to the 1930s.

The messages read: ‘Mace hands off Botley’ and ‘Barbrer [sic] screwed Botley.’

Chris Church, founder of the Association for Botley Communities, said: “I think it does sum up the frustration that a lot of people will be feeling because of the consultation to now change the phasing of the development.

“I do not think work will start now until September at the earliest.

“But you should not resort to vandalism to express your opinion, there are more constructive ways of doing this.”

In April Mace announced that instead of phasing in the new development, it was going to demolish the majority of the 1960s shopping centre in one.

As a result of the changes to the schedule Mace confirmed it will now be holding a consultation, which residents fear will push back the demolition start date even further.

Bemused by being named in his first graffiti, leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council Matthew Barber said he was ‘almost honoured’ by it.

He added: “I have a thick skin so I do not particularly mind it targeting me.

“I understand people’s feelings about the West Way development and as I have said all along I honestly thing it is a great proposal.

“But it has taken longer than what we had expected to get things done.

“I saw a newspaper report of when the current centre was opened 40 years ago and back then it was being heralded as this brand new and forward thinking centre.

“And that is what we are trying to do now, is to bring it into the future so many generations can benefit from it in the years to come.”

Co-chairwoman of West Way Community Concern said the resident group did not condone such behaviour.

She added: “It is felt by a lot of us but we do not go about doing things like that.

“There are other ways to say how you feel, our campaigns consist of balloon releases.”

As the two graffitied buildings are owned by the Howse family, the responsibility of removing the writing will fall to them.

Mace have been approached for a comment. A date has yet to be set for the consultation.