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Tuesday, 11 April, 2000, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Hague kicks-off local election campaign
Tory leader William Hague has launched the Conservative Party's bid to build its support in town halls across England four years after its local government massacre in 1996.

As of December 1999, Mr Hague's party held 5,978 seats across England, compared to Labour's 8,537 and the Liberal Democrat's 4,403.

The party has been regaining support on local councils since the May 1996 election when it lost more than half the seats that it was defending and was forced into third place behind the Liberal Democrats.

Asked how many seats he hoped to win back this time, Mr Hague refused to give a figure but urged voters to use the elections to send a message to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Speaking at Windsor racecourse he said: "As every day goes by, it is becoming clearer and clearer that this prime minister and his government are all talk and no delivery."

'Stealth taxes'

Mr Hague repeated his accusation that the government had failed to fulfil its promises to middle Britain and were piling stealth taxes on the people.

He claimed: "For every pound of tax cuts he announces there are 9 of tax increases he's hidden away."

Turning to the pound, Mr Hague said that the prime minister "has wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers' money trying to convince the British people that we should scrap it.

"So I say to people who believed Tony Blair when he said he had no plans to increase taxes, to people who believed him when he said he would save the NHS, to people who were taken in by his talk about loving the pound, now is your chance to send him a message."

Local elections operate on four-yearly cycles and this May there are contests in 152 councils in England to elect 3,337 councillors.

See also:

06 Apr 00 | London Mayor
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