Jan 20 2012 By Lawrence Poole
EMBATTLED Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan is defying calls to resign after being accused of performing a U-turn over the route for the London-Birmingham high-speed rail link.
Mrs Gillan, who is the Welsh Secretary, hit the national newspaper headlines at the weekend when it was discovered she had sold her home in Amersham, which is just 500 metres from the designated route approved last week.
The 17th century terraced house, in Whielden Street was sold for £320,000 in November.
Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser, Mrs Gillan said: “My position remains the same.
“I want to continue working for my constituents. I’ve been against the idea of HS2 since Labour announced it and I’ve never changed my position.
“I’ve every sympathy with everyone affected and I’m trying to represent the interests of the people of Chesham and Amersham as best I can.”
On constituents’ anger, she said: “There’s a certain transparency about the attacks on me – emotions are running high – I’ve been MP for 20 years and I understand it’s a big issue for the area.
“I think it would be better if everyone united behind what’s been achieved so far, as it is far from over.”
The MP confirmed she would be meeting Transport Secretary Justine Greening soon to discuss the route further.
As well as criticism in the press, a banner appeared on the nearby A413 with the slogan, ‘Cheryl you let us down – go now!’
An anti HS2 campaigner said it was later removed because of pressure from ‘local Conservatives’.
Mrs Gillan’s spokesman said her house had been on the market since June 2010 and went for 20 per cent less than the original price.
Seb Berry, an independent member of Chiltern District Council representing Great Missenden, said: “How someone elected on a clear platform of stopping ‘Labour’s scheme’ for HS2 can be a member of the Cabinet sharing collective responsibility for that decision is beyond me.
“For many local people, news that she no longer even has a home in the constituency is the final straw.”
Viv Salisbury, a campaigner from South Heath, said: “I think she should resign.
“She was voted in on a ‘Stop HS2’ platform and has changed tack. It’s a disgrace."
However Martin King, a former Mayor of Amersham and auctioneer, defended the MP’s actions after clearing the house.
“The narrow staircase is impossible for an older couple to use. She’s been a damn fine MP for this area and I think the treatment is getting nasty.”
Mrs Gillan has mobility problems since an illness in 2006 and her husband is in his 80s.
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