A NEWLY-elected councillor launched a stinging attack on a 'media campaign' calling for a Bucks MP to resign over the controversial High Speed 2 project after his by-election win last night.

Tory Gilbert Nockles, who won the battle for the Great Missenden ward on Chiltern District Council by just 25 votes, said his victory was a “clear vindication” of the stance taken over the plans by the village's MP, Cheryl Gillan.

Last month an open letter from the Great Missenden Village Association called for Mrs Gillan to resign her cabinet post as Secretary of State for Wales on a point of principle over the proposed railway line (see link to previous story, below).

If given approval the line would cut through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Great Missenden.

Cllr Nockles told the Bucks Free Press after the result of the by-election was announced: “There has been a campaign waged in the media on HS2, which is the most important issue facing the whole of the Chilterns.

“This campaign has been calling on Cheryl Gillan to resign. Tonight is a clear vindication of the position she has adopted, which I have wholeheartedly endorsed. We are unequivocally opposed to the HS2 project trashing the Chilterns and we will run a robust and vigorous campaign to ensure it doesn't happen.

“A lot of people had been influenced by the media campaign, particularly relating to the resignation of Cheryl and some of the comments made about the Secretary of State for Transport.

“A clear majority of the voters in Great Missenden have rejected that campaign.”

He added: “I think today's win is attributable to the hard work of a large number of people over the last three to four weeks.”

In a closely-fought contest Cllr Nockles polled 306 votes, narrowly pipping Liberal Democrat candidate Seb Berry who received 281 votes.

Mr Berry – one of the people who signed the letter calling for Mrs Gillan's resignation – said there had been a 24 per cent swing from the Conservatives to his party since the last by-election in the village four years ago.

He said: “The Conservatives got a fright last night. Having been one of the safest Tory seats in the Chilterns, Great Missenden is now an ultra marginal for next May's full Council elections. I said I would run a positive campaign on the issues and on my track record in the village, and that's exactly what I did.

“Throughout the campaign I said that I would not turn HS2 into a party political issue, and I meant it. All the candidates at this by-election opposed HS2 as do all the local political parties and that's what I told people throughout the campaign.

“Now it's time for all of us, regardless of party affiliation to work together to fight the threat to our village and countryside. That must of course include keeping up the public pressure on local MPs who hold Ministerial office.”

There was a further victory for the Conservatives last night as the party comfortably held the Ashley Green, Chenies and Latimer ward.

Candidate Andrew Garth took 72.7 per cent of the total votes cast.

That by-election was called following the death of Graham Sussum at the age of 71 following a period of illness.

Cllr Garth said after his win: “I think what shouldn't be forgotten is this has come about because of the death of a well-respected councillor. A lot of people thought very highly of him.

“I know a large number of people who knew him very well and the good work that he did and in that sense it's a shame this by-election took place.”