Money spent getting to the bottom of an issue about funding for a tree planting scheme in Burntwood should be paid back, a local councillor has said.

Staffordshire County Council has confirmed that “measures have been put in place” for the money awarded to Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd to be returned to the public purse.

It comes after he received £924 via the Climate Change fund for a tree planting scheme, only for “concerns” to be raised, leading to his suspension from the Conservative group.

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has since broken his silence on the issue, insisting the money had not been spent and that he could not be accused of being “a typical Tory”.

But Cllr Rob Birch, a member of both Burntwood Town Council and Lichfield District Council, said the cost of getting to the bottom of the issue should also be paid back in full.

Cllr Rob Birch and Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd

“Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd’s response begs more questions than it answers.

“He says he is ‘not a typical Tory’ – 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.

“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-existent ones.”

Cllr Rob Birch

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd told Lichfield Live that he would be providing a “clear timeline about the money and when and how it is returned” in the coming days.

He added:

“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

Cllr Birch said:

“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, while those at the town council get nothing.”

Cllr Rob Birch

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9 Comments

  1. Personally I find Cllr Birch’s comments both inappropriate and unnecessary and he should consider his own conduct as a councillor prior to writing tit for tat articles such as this. Ever wonder why people do not wish to enter local politics.

  2. Personally having read this myself I don’t think this is an attempt to play dirty. I will be contacting Cllr Birch who I’ve always found to be reasonable myself as soon as possible and he is free to publish what I say if he wishes to.

  3. ‘It makes me look like a bloody idiot’ ? That’s not what we’ve been thinking at all, Councillor. We’ve been wondering:
    – What sort of ‘company’ you set up to benefit from public funding?
    – How you came to receive the funds from a Conservative councillor?
    – Why you didn’t buy trees & plant them?
    – Where the money has been ‘resting’ until it was given to you?
    – Whether you still have all the money?
    – If not, what have you spent it on?
    – When you will pay it back?
    – Why you haven’t done the decent thing & resigned?

  4. This is emphatically not an ‘internal issue for the Conservative party’. It is about the potential misuse of public funds and incompetence and worse at Staffordshire County Council. How well paid or not this Councillor is does not seem relevant unless the money has been used for personal purposes.

  5. In my opinion, someone who is a director of a company handling public funds who does not meet his duties under Part 31 of the Companies Act 2006 should not be serving as a councillor.

    To LichfieldLive: Please keep digging. The public must be told the identities of the ~120 people/organisations who reportedly received funds from the Climate Change fund, who authorised these payments and what has been done with the money.

  6. Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

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