Lib Dems’ Ed Davey ramps up fight for West Country comeback

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey says the upcoming local elections are a "two-horse race" against the Conservatives.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has said the party is ‘back in the West Country', as he looks to make gains across the region in May’s local elections.

On a visit to Bridport in West Dorset on Thursday, Sir Ed Davey told ITV West Country it’s "very much a two-horse race" against the Conservatives.

Dorset Council is currently run by the Tories but Sir Ed is confident his party is "putting them under pressure" before voters go to the polls on 2 May.

"I look at the evidence and people in Somerset have voted Liberal Democrat, both at local level and also the by-election we won there", said a smiling Ed Davey.

Sir Ed Davey was left stuck on shore after rough seas sunk plans for the Liberal Democrat leader to get out on the water.

He added: "They voted in Devon for us, both at the council elections and at the by-election there. We think they're going to vote Liberal Democrat here in Dorset and that sets us fair ahead of the general election."

The party will be challenging a number of Conservative-held seats in Somerset at the next general election, including Glastonbury and Somerton, and Wells. Their chances could be boosted in the latter after the departure of the former Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey.

But Sir Ed’s Party also have eyes on the South Cotswolds, Cheltenham, and now West Dorset.

Not only do they want to win back seats they have previously lost, but they appear quietly confident they could scoop up some more.

“The Liberal Democrats are back in the West Country, we're back across the southwest from Dorset to Cornwall and beyond," Sir Ed declared.

Despite his confidence, the Conservatives in West Dorset are insisting they will put up a fight in both the local and general elections.

Chris Loder, the Conservative MP, said the Council in Dorset has “clearly demonstrated, what in my opinion, is very astute management of the finances”.

“I do think it’s going to be tough, there's no two ways about it. I'd never take anything for granted and that includes the returns," he added.