SWINDON Borough Council could be looking for a new leader by the end of next week.

A former motion of no confidence in David Renard has been lodged by his former Conservative colleague Oliver Donachie, who represents the same Haydon Wick ward.

It is being backed by the Liberal Democrats and will be put to a full council meeting on Thursday, October 1.

And just three of the Tory members vote against the authority's leader then it could be enough to see Coun Renard unseated.

The motion is just one sentence long: “That this council has no confidence in the leader of the Swindon Borough Council”.

But if a majority of councillors vote in favour Coun Renard will be obliged to stand down and a new leader will be needed.

Coun Donachie now sits as an Independent Tory, having left the Conservatives in May in a row over how the council – and particularly its response to the coronavirus crisis – was being run.

He said his motion wasn’t about his ambitions to be leader.

“This has never been about me," said Coun Donachie. "I am defending my residents’ needs as I committed to do the night I was elected.

“Our hope is when this vote is complete the political process will continue and conversations about the future will resume with a fresh pair of eyes. As long as it puts the people of Swindon at the centre I will always take part in the discussion.

“Success would be a leader for the council that has vision and integrity. The people of Swindon desperately need to see a new and vibrant face giving the town hope.”

The get the motion to pass, Coun Donachie needs the support of three Conservative councillors – assuming all the opposition councillors vote for it.

There are 30 Conservative councillors, 22 Labour, two Lib Dems and two Independent Tories, the other being Emma Faramarzi.

But Coun Renard is confident he has the support of his members.

He said: “I was elected unanimously as the leader of the Conservative group and by extension the council in May, including by Coun Donachie.

"Clearly something has changed in his mind, but it’s hard to know what because he doesn’t say why there should be no confidence in me. He makes no attempt to explain why he thinks I should be replaced, so I’ll be interested to hear that argument.”

The leader of the council since 2013 says the vote is not only about him but the whole administration.

He said: “We have been managing the Covid-19 crisis, and have done really well to get the number of infections down after a spike.

"We are doing better than most towns across the country – our economic recovery is also better than most , with plenty of companies still wanting to come and invest in Swindon, so this is about confidence in the whole administration and the Conservative group.

“I see no reason why I should not have the support of the whole group.”

That doesn’t seem likely to be true of opposition councillors.

Leader of the two-man Lib Dem group Stan Pajak said he will second the motion – and vote for it.

“There is obviously a split in the Conservative group – and I think we need to be working together as councillors more," said Coun Pajak.

“I’ll be voting for the motion in the hope of a new leader who can take the Conservative councillors with them, and who will work more closely with councillors across the chamber. Something has broken down in the Conservative group and we need a new approach.”

Labour group leader Jim Grant says it’s likely his colleagues will vote in support of the motion.

He said: “We haven’t seen the motion yet but I believe we would be minded to support it. David Renard has clearly lost control of his own group and we need leadership at this time.

“The Tory group now appears to be split into three factions and the fact they are fighting among themselves at this time of crisis demonstrates the total incompetence of the administration and what a total shambles the Tories are. Swindon deserves better.”

The motion should be put to full council at the meeting, which starts at 7pm on October 1.