Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd
Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd

A Burntwood councillor says he is “deeply embarrassed” about the situation surrounding funding for a failed tree planting project.

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd has been suspended by the Conservative group at Staffordshire County Council after concerns were raised over the money.

His Nature Nuturing company was given £924 from the Climate Change Fund before his election in the Burntwood North division.

However, it has since emerged that the project did not take place – with steps now being taken for the money to be returned.

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd told Lichfield Live that the failure of the tree planting initiative to take place despite the funding being handed over did not mean he was “a typical Tory”.

“I am deeply embarrassed and apologetic about the manner in which this has taken place, which makes me look like a bloody idiot over what is meant to be an internal issue within the Conservative party.

“I do, however, refute suggestions that I am corrupt, crooked or a typical Tory – accusations which have been plastered out across social media on various platforms.

“As one of the lowest income-earning councillors in the region it is laughable to suggest that I am part of some kind of elite that seeks to defend themselves only.

“If anything, the opposite is true as I have – with a few exceptions – been left to fight this out myself, much to the distress of my family and friends who are understandably infuriated by the comments left by people who seek to inflict pain and mockery upon me.”

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd, Staffordshire County Council

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd is still waiting to find out if he will be reinstated by the Conservative group at the county council, with a meeting understood to be taking place next week to decide his political future.

However, he insisted he would not step down as a councillor regardless of the outcome – and would “face the music” instead.

“I will not be running away like a sheep as some people seem to want. That’s not the kind of person I am.

“No, I’ll face the music for what has happened and if, due to the judgment of my peers, I have to serve out my term as an independent councillor this is what I shall do, because I didn’t put myself forward for public office to run away in self-interest.

“I don’t deny that the road ahead will be embarrassing, humiliating and potentially destructive of my character – which is something I’ll have to learn to live with – but I’ve decided the right thing to do is to face the music, whatever the cost.”

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd, Staffordshire County Council

“I was let down by others”

Although the project did not go ahead, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd said the money had never been used for any other purpose.

He added the failure of the initiative was due to a number of factors.

Chasewater

“This project was a group project, although the funds were in my name.

“I was let down by others who didn’t give the support I expected and needed. 

“The trees were intended to be planted on a path at Chasewater, which the rangers and the organisers of the country park were in agreement with. I had hoped this to be part of something much bigger.

“The trees were to maintained by a group of volunteers who sought to build an orchard and would be self-funding. This did not happen and is a major factor as to why the whole thing fell through.

“The reason for the delay was also because I was moving home straight after the election and the ranger who I was in contact with seemed to not have a nine to five daily working hours, which provided a huge problem during a time when we were leaving lockdown and getting our lives back to normal.

“I have profound autism and my partner who is herself someone who suffers from mental health has seen her social anxiety increase – I feel deeply that this issue needs to be resolved so that she doesn’t have to see stuff like this ever again.”

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd, Staffordshire County Council

Join the Conversation

14 Comments

  1. This response begs more questions than it answers.

    “Not a typical Tory”, too right a typical Tory seems to be able to get away with misuse of public funds. An interesting statement though as it certainly shows that he thinks a “typical Tory” gets up to this sort of thing routinely. Quite an admission.

    As the money has not been spent then I trust it has already been paid back in full? If not where is it? There had better not be a monthly payment plan being put in place to return it as that would amount to an interest free loan, which in itself would be immoral and a further misuse of public funds. It seems a fair few people knew for a while that no trees had been planted, so why was it not dealt with months ago?

    In addition to the disappearing cash, how much has been spent on officers wages sorting this mess out and dealing with the freedom of information requests? The administration costs should also be paid back as public money does not grow on trees so to speak, at least not on none existant ones.

    I am afraid that I do not have any sympathy with using Autism as an excuse and think that is somewhat unfair and disrespectful to all those of us on the spectrum who do not take public funds and do vanishing acts with it. Blaming the staff of Chasewater is also somewhat bad form, although I note the same tactic was deployed by the Tories when Cllr Grange and I raised concerns about the community grant scheme at Lichfield District Council.

    How precisely does he know is is one of the lowest income earning Councillors? Last time I looked the County Council give a fairly decent allowance certainly more than anyone gets on the District and those at the Town Council get nothing.

    One thing that really gets me is that at the meeting of Burntwood Town Council, where we debated the Council Tax Precept rise, he and his Tory friends talked about morals when dealing with public finances. We then see press releases from the local Tories in Burntwood saying the rise to fund local services was immoral followed by propaganda spuriously claiming they funded the recent markets in Burntwood. They didn’t fund them the taxpayer did! These are of course the very same markets that can only keep going with the funding from the precept that they opposed.

    Glad to see there were at least plans for an orchard, apples presumably, but unless I’m barking up the wrong tree the Conservatives seem to be rotten to the core. But then I guess with the likes of Boris at the helm it is hardly any wonder the seeds of dodgy dealings have been planted at all levels. I guess we should be grateful that anything was planted at all.

    People should not forget that the County Council Website still list him as a Conservative Party Councillor and he is still a member of the Burntwood Town Council Tory Group.

  2. Regardless of above – the fact is T L-R has taken more than ages to respond. A new election in January is best way forward. If T L-R wishes to stand as independent that will demonstrate the feelings of the locals!.

  3. Blaming the Rangers is a disgrace and should be ashamed, not up to them to sort out your invisible trees.

    This is very simple, you had the money so pay it back. If you cant pay it back then you have spent it on yourself and committed Fraud. You cant take money for a tree planting project under a dissolved company and then spend it on yourself.

    Unless we see a post saying its been paid back in full I want the next article to say the police are investigating corruption and fraud.

  4. I love the statement “I’m not a typical Tory”, a clear admission that Tory sleaze is alive and well.

    If he’s not a typical Tory he should stop making feeble excuses and pay it back. If I had done this it would be called stealing and I would be in court. But he is a typical Tory, so he won’t.

  5. He really does like digging holes – mainly for himself rather than for an orchard paid for with public money.

  6. I think, having read the his response, he has shown himself to be very much “typical Tory” in the way he’s blamed practically everyone and everything else. I don’t sense any great remorse. Also – why isn’t he able to simply refund the money instantly?!

    I’m sorry but, none of the above rings true. Quite simply – he should be made to stand down. In ANY other public role, this would be regarded as fraud.

  7. There is so much hot air being spoken here by the Cllr it won’t do any good in the fight to combat climate change.

    There are so many points that have still not been addressed.

    One of the main ones is why is a “timeline” required to pay this money back – just pay it back straight away.

    This was not a loan to be paid back in installments. Or was it?

  8. I have always had concerns about these schemes, and this response is doing nothing to ease my concerns. Refuting suggestions of corruption is actually really easy – Cllr Loughborough-Rudd could share a bank statement in the name of the CIC (with suitable redaction of sort code and account number) showing the £924 in situ, then a second showing the transfer of the money back to SCC. That would be easy proof that the money is there and had been repaid, and the explanation of a scheme failing becomes more credible.

    However, reading a bit further, the statement is made that “the funds were in my name”. This raises more concerns for me – were the funds sent direct to the councillor rather than to the CIC which, as a separate legal entity, should have its own bank account? If so, what the hell was SCC playing at? If the grant was to a CIC then the money should have gone to the CIC and not to a director. If the funds were intended for the CIC but instead went to the director then there is breach of the asset-lock in the CIC and the CIC’s articles which require no assets to be transferred other than for full consideration. This is all a complete mess and seems to be getting murkier by the day.

  9. He is such a lovley chap hope all turns out OK
    The bullies are out sadley let’s show all pay outs and expences over the last 20 for years are shown for all speak out.
    John madden

  10. As a resident in Burntwood, I cannot accept this explanation. To address his points, he says “meant to be an internal issue within the Conservative party.”, yet he took taxpayers money for a project that is not published anywhere. Why should it be an internal party issue? He claims he is not “a typical tory”, what exactly does this mean? An ‘atypical’ tory would not be in the tory party.
    He claims to be “one of the lowest income-earning councillors”, which may be true, however he’s social media is littered with him smoking cigars and recently having a fancy meal with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He gets money for being a county councillor, which seems to be around £9,786. He is the director of a company. I’m not sure if he knows, but when you’re a low earner, you don’t buy cigars or attend many social events.
    I find it very disgraceful that he is ruling out resigning from his seat. As another comment has already said, he could run as an independent to see if the public still trust him.
    I’m not sure if mentioning his autism or his partner’s mental health is a defence for his actions, or an attempt for sympathy.. As for being called out, you are an elected public councillor who has done something wrong.
    I hope you’re not as egotistical as it seems to be, but you need to reassess this and resign. Let an election happen and if the people still trust you.

  11. @John Madden – lovely chap or not, it’s not bullying to question public money, and to ask questions when it’s not clear where it’s been spent etc. Quite the opposite – I think we all have a moral duty to make sure it’s spent wisely.

    He may be a lovely chap but, that in no way detracts from what’s happened here.

    He’s part of a council that has consistently shown itself to be incompetent.

  12. Only 2 things to say about this
    1. Where is the money? Haven’t seen Cllr Loughborough- Rudd mention it in any of his comments as yet.
    2. Are his statements, excuses, “explanations,” passing the buck to all and sundry, poor me etc comments part of the new “Owen Paterson Defence” or just the the same old “Prime Ministerial refusal to answer the simplest of questions/offer a meaningless “apology”/treat the voters with contempt” Strategy, much loved and used by a particular type of Conservative (they aren’t all the same!)

Leave a comment
Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy before posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *