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The Stirrer can reveal that the Conservative Party is about to sign up for two party conferences in Birmingham - not just one as reported elsewhere. They'll commit themselves to 2008 and 2010, by which time they could be the party of government.

Council leader Mike Whitby has been working behind the scenes for months to pull off the deal, which will finally be signed with the Conservative Party Chairman Francis Maude on Friday at the ICC.

Whitby said: “This has been a delicate negotiation, and was only truly finalised last Friday, since when we've been dotting the I's and crossing the t's.

“This is a great chance to show Birmingham, not just on the national stage but on the international stage. We'll have the world's press here and we'll be able to show that we are the friendly city”.

The conference won't come cheap; Birmingham council taxpayers are expected to underwrite the deal to the tune of £2million, but the spin-offs are estimated at being worth between £20-£25million.

Whitby deserves great credit for his persistence, as does Neil Rami the chief executive of Marketing Birmingham who has successfully negotiated greater freedom from his political paymasters to ensure a successful outcome.

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