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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Cameron hails 'stunning' results
David Cameron campaigning in Brighton
The Tories say they are rebuilding steadily under David Cameron
The Conservatives say they are on course to win the next election after gaining 875 councillors across England and winning 40% of the vote.

As senior Tory figures said the results would give them a "significant working majority" in Parliament, leader David Cameron described them as "stunning".

The BBC's projections suggest the Conservatives are 13 points ahead of Labour, which has a share of 27%.

But Labour said the Tories needed to do better to win the next election.

'Speaking for Britain'

Party sources claim the Conservatives gained more than 100 new councillors in the north of England, although they again failed to win any seats on Manchester City Council.

They did make gains in nearby Trafford and gained control from Labour in Blackpool, Gravesham, Lincoln, North West Leicestershire and Plymouth.

They took Bournemouth, South Norfolk, Torbay, Uttlesford and Windsor & Maidenhead from the Liberal Democrats.

And they gained councils including: Chester, Crawley, Dover, Herefordshire, North Somerset and South Ribble from no overall control.

It's exciting that the Conservative Party is really where it should be at the moment and I'm very pleased about that
David Cameron

The Conservatives became the largest party on England's biggest council, Birmingham, for the first time in a quarter of a century.

And they took control of Oswestry Borough Council for the first time in the council's history.

The party also pointed to "significant advances" in other northern councils including Bury, Crewe and Nantwich, Preston and Sunderland.

Mr Cameron said his party had secured "a great set of results".

"We took control of South Ribble with stunning results on one side of the Pennines. We took control of the East Riding of Yorkshire on the other side with also stunning results..." he said.

"We're the one national party speaking up for all of Britain.

"And I think we can really build from this point, really go forward and I think that's exciting that the Conservative Party is really where it should be at the moment and I'm very pleased about that."

'Not a brilliant night'

Eric Pickles, the party's vice-chairman, said: "We've got 40% of the vote. We are now back in business. In the north of England we run more councils now than the Lib Dems do in the North West or Yorkshire. A new dawn is breaking."

He added: "There are now very large sections of the UK that don't have a single Labour councillor."

If I was David Cameron tonight, I would be content that we were making progress
Iain Duncan Smith
Former Tory leader

In Wales, the Tories have 12 seats in the 60-seat assembly, taking key constituencies such as Clwyd West and Cardiff North from Labour.

In Scotland with all 129 seats declared, the Conservatives have 17 MSPs - a net loss of one seat.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the party was rebuilding and making slow but steady progress and had achieved some good results.

'Progress'

He added: "It takes time, I think frankly, for oppositions to rebuild.

"Historically that's happened to Labour, and it's happening to the Conservative Party, but the key test for us is throughout all this process we make progress, and that we make advances.

"And I think you know there have been some good results and if we end up in the North West outperforming Labour now, that's a good start there because the North West was a powerhouse for us when we were in power.

"So if I was David Cameron tonight, I would be content that we were making progress."

With only a handful of results to come the Conservatives have so far gained 875 English council seats and 38 councils.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Conservatives celebrate their successes




KEY STORIES

ANALYSIS
David Cameron Winners and losers
With the results in, Nick Assinder assesses the election winners and losers


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