David Cameron on a 'positive vote' for Conservatives
Conservative leader David Cameron has hailed the local election results as a "big moment" for the party.
Mr Cameron said the results marked a positive vote for his party, not just a protest against the government.
He said that a Boris Johnson win in the London mayor race - now widely tipped - would be "enormously important".
The Conservatives have made over 190 gains in council seats with Labour likely to be pushed into third place by the Liberal Democrats.
Speaking to reporters outside his London home, Mr Cameron said: "I think this is a very big moment for the Conservative Party, but I don't want anyone to think that we would deserve to win an election just on the back of a failing government.
"I want us to really prove to people that we can make the changes that they want to see and that's what I'm going to devote myself and my party to doing over the next few months."
He added: "I think these results are not just a vote against Gordon Brown and his government - I think they are a vote of positive confidence in the Conservative Party.
"I think people see a party that has changed for the better, they're looking to us and trusting us to speak out on the issues that they really care about."
Mr Cameron has visited Barry in Wales to celebrate the Tories' success and has told supporters: "The Conservative Party is back in Wales."
Conservatives gain 173 seats
Conservatives key wins- Basingstoke & Deane, Elmbridge, Southampton, Bury, Harlow, Maidstone, North Tyneside, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Redditch, Vale of Glamorgan, West Lindsey, Wyre Forest
Conservative key losses - Colchester, Coventry
He also visited Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where a Tory victory ended 34 years of Labour control, and insisted no political heartlands were off-limits to the Conservatives.
"I don't believe ever in politics there are heartlands that are unwinnable. No seat is entirely safe," he said.
Caroline Spelman, the Conservative Party chairman, said the results were a positive vote for the party.
"There's no question that the mistakes that Gordon Brown has made, including the 10p tax rate, has had an impact on Labour's poll ratings," he said.
"But yesterday wasn't just a protest vote, that is to diminish the significance of a set of elections where Conservatives have won councils in the north, the Midlands and the south, right across the piece."
BBC research suggests Labour has fallen into third place nationally with 24% of votes, with the Conservatives on 44% and Lib Dems on 25%.
The margin is similar to the drubbing received by Tory Prime Minister John Major in council elections in 1995, two years before he was ejected from Downing Street by Tony Blair.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.