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Last Updated: Friday, 29 February 2008, 07:14 GMT
Tories 'celebrate their success'
By Phil Parry
BBC News

Nick Bourne (right) before a Conservative group meeting
The Tories believe opposition will give them a springboard for May

Don't expect any big policy announcements from the Welsh Conservatives at their conference in Llandudno this week - as they "celebrate their success", as they like to put it.

Even though they are not in power in the assembly - it's their first conference as the "official opposition" and the party believes it will give them a springboard for taking more seats at May's local council elections.

But there are real tensions within the party over the assembly group wanting more powers for Wales.

"They want to go further than most of the party" as one source says.

But that is unlikely to break out into the open as the Welsh Conservatives present a united front.

The UK leader David Cameron speaks on Saturday - St David's day - and in the afternoon assembly group leader Nick Bourne - it will be followed by a speech from the shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, MP.

David Cameron
David Cameron speaks at the conference on Saturday

Another high profile speaker is the shadow security minister Baroness Pauline Neville Jones, a former career civil servant, who served for a time as chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

A review of policy is already underway on enterprise and other reviews are likely to be announced on health and the environment, heritage, social justice and rural affairs - but no "rafts" of new policies.

"We are in a strong position," said Nick Bourne.

"But we have to keep focusing to keep the momentum going, and presenting ourselves as a credible alternative to Labour and Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly Government."

In the May assembly elections the party won another seat - bringing their group number to 12. They also won the second highest number of votes, after Labour and at 22.4% a major share of the vote.

Grumblings

The Welsh Conservatives won 109 seats at the last local council elections in 2004 election and the party expects "significant gains". They have their sights set on councils like the Vale of Glamorgan, but it would be a huge task to gain many more authorities.

At the moment they only hold power outright in one - Monmouthshire but share power in three others, Denbighshire, Bridgend and Wrexham.

"At these elections we will be fighting in every local authority area in Wales, which is a first," said Nick Bourne.

And that includes fighting in areas like Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot where they have no seats at all.

Unity and optimism about their future possible success in the local elections will be watchwords for the Welsh conservatives in Llandudno - and any grumblings of concern about Assembly Members seeking greater powers for Wales are not likely to find their way on to the conference platform.



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