A former senior borough councillor who was heavily critical of the ruling Conservative administration when he quit the party could soon be back in the Tory group.

But not all of his former colleagues are happy about it.

Oliver Donachie resigned from the cabinet and the Conservatives in May saying he couldn’t agree with some measures taken to speed up decision-making during the coronavirus crisis.

Since then he has represented his ward of Haydon Wick as an Independent Tory.

He was joined in the group by fellow councillor Emma Faramarzi, his partner, who represents Priory Vale.

At the time, he said the administration led by fellow Haydon Wick Conservative David Renard was ‘lethargic and asleep at the wheel’.

But he has now applied to rejoin the Conservatives and after what was described as a ‘difficult’ online meeting of the 30 Tory councillors – they voted to readmit him, although some say certain conditions were imposed. It is understood that the secret ballot was close.

Coun Donachie said: “I’m pleased that the majority of my Conservative colleagues are supportive of us all working together and have voted as such.

“There will always be disagreements, especially in such serious times. However, I and my colleagues understand the absolute importance of working together for the good of Swindon.”

But not every member of the group is happy at the prospect of Coun Donachie’s return.

The group had asked a series of question of the councillor by email – and not all were impressed by his written responses.

One, who did not wish to be named said: “It was a difficult meeting. We had asked Coun Donachie what had changed?

“We had asked him why he had said the administration was ‘asleep at the wheel’, and he wouldn’t engage with the questions.

“All he sent in response was that he was being subject to a 'lengthy and puerile lecture on personal conduct'.

"He did not apologise, he didn’t say that he had been angry and had made a mistake.”

The councillor said the group had agreed to allow Coun Donachie to rejoin on certain conditions – that he abided by the concept of collective responsibility and the code of conduct.

He was asked to remove posts criticising the administration and Coun Renard personally on the Haydon Wick community Facebook page he administrates. The Swindon Independent Tories Facebook page run by Coun Donachie, which he has been asked to remove, remains in place.

The member of the Tory group is not happy, and is worried about a possible leadership challenge to Coun Renard.

“There are quite a lot of us concerned about Coun Donachie rejoining.

“Swindon is facing one of its greatest challenges in recovering from the coronavirus crisis and we need all to be pulling together, not indulging in self-inflicted leadership challenges.”

In response Coun Donachie said: “I have throughout this process been happy to put my name to my view and not hide behind a veil of anonymity.”

Council leader Mr Renard said: “Any application to join the Conservative group is considered in a private and confidential forum and an announcement made when the group is satisfied the applicant will uphold the highest standards of group membership.”