The Tories have launched their campaign for May's local elections with an attack on council tax increases.

But party chairman Theresa May stopped short of promising to reverse any increases if the party was voted back into office.

Local authorities in the North-East and Yorkshire are going to the polls, including Sedgefield, Redcar and Cleveland and York.

Mrs May said the key issue would be the rise in council tax, although, as The Northern Echo reported yesterday, the region has seen some of the lowest increases this year.

Pressed on whether a Conservative government could reverse the increases, the party chairman said people would have to wait and see.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory leader will this weekend launch a Give-us-our-money-back poster campaign at the Conservative local government conference.

Mrs May denied recent Tory divisions would hit the party at the ballot box, although she predicted only about 30 seats would be taken by the party.

"Local elections are about local issues, she said.

"It is about people deciding who they want to be in their local council and the services that are provided at a local level."