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Bore and Whitby interviewed by Sky News

The breakthrough came at 1.45 a.m. - Gareth Compton snatched a seat in the traditional Labour stronghold of Erdington, and for the first time in 23 years, the Conservatives were on course to becoming the largest party in Birmingham.

They are still well short of the 61 seats needed for overall control, of course, but their current figure in the mid-40’s represents a remarkable turnaround in the party’s fortunes.

Council leader Mike Whitby reflected on the fact that when he became a councillor in 1997, he was one of a rump of just 13 Tories.

Recent speculation that his leadership was weak and ineffective certainly wasn’t reflected in the polls, with the Conservatives also picking up seats in Kings Norton and Billesley.

Whitby was cock-a-hoop: “Birmingham citizens are saying they are well pleased with what they’ve got.

“The city is now officially the cleanest in the country, we’ve got the most comprehensive recycling scheme the city has ever had, and we’ve got caring and compassionate social services.

“That is a recipe for success.”

He also played up the role of his coalition partners, saying, “I look forward to working as the leader of the progressive partnership with the Liberal Democrats continuing to play the essential part they do.”

The last time the Conservatives were the largest party in the city was 1984, when Neville Bosworth was their leader.

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