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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
At-a-glance: Lib Dem poll launch
The new leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, launches the campaign at Lib Dem party headquarters in Cowley Street, London. The poll is the 64-year-old former Olympic sprinter's first major test since replacing Charles Kennedy as Lib Dem leader.

Sir Menzies is flanked by campaigns chief Lord Razzall, local government spokesman Andrew Stunell and Barbara Janke, the Lib Dem leader of Bristol City Council. There are also about a dozen newspaper and news agency journalists, plus TV crews from the BBC and ITN.

Sir Menzies says his party will campaign for a "safer, fairer and greener Britain" before going on to stress reduction of crime, improving the environment and replacing the "unfair council tax".

Sir Menzies Campbell
Sir Menzies' campaign launch was 'low-key and business-like'
"We're challenging Labour in the big cities where the Conservatives have long since disappeared from view."

"We're fighting the Conservatives in the shires and the suburbs and gaining ground in spite of their attempts to reinvent themselves."

"Councils are stifled by the dead hand of Whitehall. Red tape, rules, inspections and central diktats suck the life out of local democracy."

Mr Stunell says the Lib Dems aim to take seats from Labour and the Conservatives - and hope to win control of councils such as Tory-run Richmond and Labour-run Haringey.

Sir Menzies says he has been around in politics far too long to start making precise predictions of what he hopes his party will achieve in the 4 May poll. But he says he hopes they will be running more councils after the votes are counted.

He says Lib Dem tax plans are still under review. However, he feels the burden of taxation is "about right" and says the party is committed to "fairer and not higher" levels.

The local election launch is low-key and business-like. There are no campaign anthems or flashing lights, just a straight-forward statement of intent as to how the party hopes to heap pressure on Labour and take the battle to David Cameron's "reinvigorated" Tories.


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