Long-term Conservative voters in Chesham say they turned away from the party over issues such as planning policy and the environment - with many aggrieved at the impact of the development of HS2.

Voters in the Chesham and Amersham constituency awoke on Friday morning to news that the Liberal Democrats had inflicted a shock by-election defeat on the Tories in what was a Conservative stronghold for decades.

One such constituent, Alan Price, 82, said he voted for Lib Dem candidate Sarah Green despite being a long-time Tory supporter.

He said: “I just wanted to see a change. Like many, I’m so fed up and furious over the building of HS2.

“It’s a big, big bugbear for me.

“My partner lives in Maidenhead and I used to be able to travel there in 30 minutes or so, now it takes me at least two hours. It’s chaotic.

“It’s been really hard as she’s become ill. I don’t think they realise how many people it has affected.”

The multibillion-pound railway project to create a new high-speed service from London to the Midlands and beyond has been stoking fury among residents for years.

Many are opposed to the project on environmental grounds, concerned the tracks are destroying wildlife, habitats and the beauty of the Chilterns and surrounding green belt.

While talk of HS2 has been going on for years, actual works on the ground have only just recently started in the area, bringing the chaos feared to reality.

It is the day-to-day impact of major works causing pot holes and traffic jams that has reportedly swayed voters.

Shabaz Nawaz, an employee of Simply The Best launderette in Chesham High Street, said: “It’s the railway, HS2, that’s done it. Everywhere around here the traffic is unbearable.”

Jit Mistry, owner of Chesham Post Office, said: “This is a beautiful place but people are totally against what’s happening with the railway, and I think that’s what has driven this.”

The Government’s handling of the pandemic also appeared to have been a factor in some people’s decision to vote for the Lib Dems.

Helen Henderson, 51, who has lived in the area for 15 years, said: “They just haven’t coped with the pandemic, and on top of everything the Tories have done over many, many years I just wanted them out.

“It’s an emotional issue for me because my brother-in-law died from Covid.”

A number of people in Chesham said they have felt “ignored” by the party that has represented them since 1974 when the seat was created, including young people.

This was a sentiment highlighted by Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey in his victory speech, as he claimed his party would listen to people “and take their concerns to Parliament”.

Zeeshan Akhlaq, 22, who works at Chesham Mobiles, said: “I voted for the Lib Dems so I’m happy. Firstly, I don’t trust the Tories but secondly they [Liberal Democrats] have promised a lot to the younger generation. But also one of the things that swayed me was they actually turned up to the Palestine-Israel demonstration. It made me think that they cared.”

Music shop owner Thanos Kalimeris said: “I think the fact the Lib Dems got in is great. The Tories and Boris Johnson don’t care about the ordinary people here and in Amersham. People no longer believe anything they say.”

Aishah Sheikh, 29, manager of Ask hairdressers, said: “That Boris Johnson decided to turn up last week, it was obvious they knew this was a possibility. They were worried.

“The irony is I don’t think it helped the Tories because he turned up without a face mask and was shaking people’s hands. People didn’t like that.”

Another Tory voter to switch sides, Dale Chiverton, said he backed Reform UK but is pleased with the Lib Dem win.

He said: “There’s so many issues, but the main one that probably turned Tories off was HS2. It felt like we weren’t listened to. They did the review, it was over budget and they still went ahead.

“I think if you look at the turnout a lot of people didn’t turn up, I think that was probably people who vote Tory and couldn’t bring themselves to vote for someone else.

“Sarah Green was everywhere. So many leaflets and posters and they really put the hours in and it certainly paid off so, good luck to her.

“Only time will tell, she’s one voice in a very large Parliament but she seems quite enthused so I hope she does well. A lot of people in town seem very happy.”

Even those who voted Conservative said they understand why others had not.

Emma Hogg, 53, a charity shop volunteer, said: “I don’t think the Conservatives have done a bad job with the coronavirus pandemic, I mean no government has had to face this before. But with people in lockdown for 18 months and then another four weeks added just before the vote, people are just desperate for a change. People are frustrated and I get that.

“We also pay very high rates and tax here and nothing gets done, the roads are full of pot holes and even though that might seem like a small thing, when you’re paying premium rates something like that affects people’s day to day lives.

“People are very angry and fed up and this is an expression of that.”

Supporters of other parties admitted they went with the Lib Dems as a tactical vote.

Labour member Peter Vandersli said: “I voted Lib Dem because I thought they had a chance of winning. Brexit was the main reason behind my vote. Rather than Brexit itself, I think the problem is the deal Boris [Johnson] has negotiated.”