TIM Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, sees the upcoming Assembly election as a “huge opportunity to remove the Conservatives,” despite wide-spread Conservative victories last year.

Mr Farron was campaigning with Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate, Jane Dodds in Machynlleth on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with the County Times, Mr Farron was asked if he is worried about losing Assembly seats, instead he is confident of winning more.

Over the past 10 years the Liberal Democrats have lost two Westminster seats and an Assembly seat to the Conservatives in Powys.

Despite this, Mr Farron said: “I feel massively positive about it. The time I’ve spent here I’ve met people who describe themselves as liberal voters.

“Some of them are people who will confess to me that off camera, they didn’t vote for us in the last couple of elections and there are reasons why that was the case we all know about.

“What I’m finding here is that there’s an awareness that we are going to get a Conservative Assembly member, MPs and government in Westminster unless people here get behind quite an outstanding candidate here in Jane Dodds.

“There’s now a very clear awareness that whatever happens, the Conservatives are not going to get anywhere near 50 per cent of the vote here, nowhere near, which means they can be beaten, but only by a Liberal Democrat in this area,” he added.

Also feeling confident, Mrs Dodds believes there has been a Liberal change in Montgomeryshire: “There has been a liberal shift in the area that I think people are aware of.

“Last year’s general election was based around fear. Fear of the SNP, fear of Labour, it was a vote for and out of fear. Those pressures are not there in the assembly election so it will be a more liberal vote.”

Throwing support behind Mrs Dodds in her campaign, Mr Farron said: “She has got a real name recognition, a real popularity on the streets in all of the communities in Montgomeryshire. There’s an awareness not just among those people who would count themselves Liberals in the past but maybe not voted for us the last couple of times.

“People find Jane Dodds an attractive personality, someone they know they would like to have speaking up for them in the Assembly and so I have got a lot of hope here. 

“The Conservatives have everything to lose, we have got everything to gain. And the supporters of other parties now realise they have a huge opportunity to remove the Conservatives,” he added.

The Assembly Election will be on May 5.