A SOMERSET County Councillor who resigned from the Tory party and his role helping oversee the authority's finances last year has rejoined the group.

In July 2018, Audit Committee chairman Cllr Dean Ruddle and his deputy Cllr Neil Bloomfield both stood down, amid fears over the council's finances, with fellow committee member Cllr Mike Rigby saying he believed the pair quit to avoid being "left holding the baby".

But now, Cllr Ruddle has rejoined the Conservatives, taking the number of Tory councillors to 34.

Announcing the u-turn, Cllr Ruddle said: "I have recently spent time with the Conservative leadership at County Hall and have a much better appreciation of their plans to ensure the financial stability of the council.

"In particular I have been impressed by their commitment to ensuring that vulnerable services are protected whilst at the same time building future resilience through increased reserves."

READ MORE: Council projects £1m underspend after £15m of cuts

Conservative leader of the county council, David Fothergill, welcomed Cllr Ruddle back.

"We are delighted that Dean has chosen to rejoin the Conservative Group," he said.

"As a councillor he has a wide appreciation of the demands of our communities, he is prepared to stand up for causes he believes in and he is committed to ensuring the longer term financial security of the authority.

"The hard work of the past few months to ensure greater financial stability is now being recognised and I am pleased Dean wants to be part of that success story."

The moves come as finances at Somerset County Council face continued scrutiny amid funding cuts from central government.

However, last month it emerged that after approving £15 million in cuts last September, the council was projecting an underspend of almost £1m for this financial year.