UKIP say an upcoming council byelection in Amersham is "a referendum on HS2" - but a former Tory mayor says party politics should stay out of the fight against the controversial railway project.

Four candidates will stand for election to the vacant seat for the Amersham Town ward on the town council next month.

The UK Independence Party say a vote for their candidate, Michael Hurley, would send a clear message that residents of the town were opposed to the HS2 scheme.

Party leader Nigel Farage again called for Amersham's MP Cheryl Gillan to resign from her Cabinet position as Secretary of State for Wales in protest at the plans being given the go-ahead.

But Martin King, a former mayor of Amersham, defended the MP and took a swipe at those criticising her.

Mr King, who resigned as a member of the Conservative party in protest at HS2 last week, said: "I'm angry at what they are doing. They are using the HS2 vehicle to try and displace Cheryl Gillan and that's the most annoying bit.

"I'm backing Cheryl all the way, she's been a fantastic MP.

"People should be fighting the decision but not having a go at the politicians who've worked hard all the way through."

Before the last General Election UKIP said they were opposed to HS2 and Mr Farage said: "Local residents have the opportunity to vote for Michael Hurley and send a clear message to Westminster whilst also applying pressure locally.

"I suspect many local folk feel let down by their local MP who talked a good game about opposing HS2 but still has not resigned her position as previously indicated.

"This local by-election really is the first referendum on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's decision to press ahead with HS2."

Standing for election alongside Mr Hurley are Liberal Democrat Vera Head - who lost her seat on the council at the last election in 2010 - Andrew Fleming of the Conservative Party and Labour's Stuart Kelly.

The byelection was called after the resignation of Tory councillor Ros Aitken.

Polling will take place at the Royal British Legion hall in Whielden Street from 7am-10pm on Thursday February 2.