TORY leader John Galvin today said he still hoped to lead his party into the next York local elections - at the age of 69.

Mr Galvin is coming to terms with life away from the political chamber after he, and his two Conservative colleagues, lost their seats in last week's City of York Council elections.

The 65-year-old said he still felt "hurt" and "angry" at that defeat, which followed three years of the Conservatives holding the balance of power in the council.

He is due to sit down with party colleagues over the next few weeks to see where they should go next.

"We have got to sit down as a group and work out a strategy that can bring us back in four years' time," said Mr Galvin.

"But this is one of the down-sides - that there are elections only every four years. We will have to wait before we can attempt to make any impact."

Mr Galvin said he had no regrets about the decisions he made while the Conservatives held the balance of power.

He said he felt he had always tried to act with "integrity" and "honesty", even if the decisions made were not always right.

Mr Galvin said: "I honestly believe that what we did was the right thing. Maybe now and again we got it wrong, but I have no regrets.

"It is patently obvious to me that the electorate wasn't interested in our record of trying to do what was right. We tried to act with integrity."

Mr Galvin said he felt his party was defeated in last week's local elections because it was not considered to be a viable opposition to Labour.

"This was a protest vote against Labour," he said. "We weren't seen as being a credible opposition. I don't think the actions we took had any bearing on the vote.

"There is a lot of water to go under the bridge over the next four years. I would like to think that I was in a position to carry on and look to be re-elected.

"I think it is a little early to say, but at the moment I would like to think that I could give it another crack."

Updated: 09:07 Friday, May 09, 2003