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 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.
“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