A Burntwood councillor at the centre of a storm over funding for a tree planting project that never took place has been handed a six month suspension by his own party group.

Cllr Thomas Loughgrough-Rudd had been temporarily suspended while an investigation took place over money his Nature Nuturing CIC company took prior to his election.

But the Conservatives at Staffordshire County Council say they have now handed him the maximum suspension possible – and added that this may not be the end of the matter.

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd
Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd

“Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has been suspended from the county council Conservative group for six months.

“This is the maximum permissible under the group rules. 

“He now sits as an independent councillor.

“Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has been ordered to repay the Climate Change monies back to the county council in full. 

“The county council’s monitoring officer will review the circumstances of the case, and – if necessary – refer the matter to the police for their consideration.

“As this may now be a matter for a police investigation, no further comment will be made.”

Staffordshire County Council Conservative group spokesperson

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has previously told Lichfield Live he would not resign from the county council if the Conservatives decided to make him stand as an independent.

“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

How the story unfolded…

A Conservative spokesperson confirmed to Lichfield Live on 18th November that Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd had been been given a preliminary suspension amid concerns over the money allocated to him prior to his election to the county council.

“The ambition with the climate change fund was to make it easy and accessible so the governance around it was light touch – however, we have discovered it was perhaps a little too light touch.

“We are now undertaking steps to rectify this.

“Some concerns were raised about money Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd applied for before he became a councillor.”

Staffordshire County Council Conservative group spokesperson

Records obtained via a Freedom of Information request subsequently showed that Cllr Lougbrough-Rudd’s Nature Nuturing – although on the county council paperwork it is spelt as Nature Nurture – was awarded £924 under the scheme via former Conservative councillor Helen Fisher, now the Deputy Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner of Staffordshire.

The details of who was awarded what by the Climate Change Fund was not made publicly available on the county council website, with the Freedom of Information request used to access details over where the funding went.

It showed that a total of £76,074.60 was handed out to 121 organisations across Staffordshire.

Among the recipients was Nature Nuturing Community Interest Company, which lists Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd as a sole director. Records reveal it was incorporated on 27th July 2020.

But details on Companies House now reveal that despite setting up the company, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd did not submit the required confirmation statement within the first 12 months as necessary.

With the statement still not submitted, an active proposal to strike off the business has now been put forward.

Staffordshire County Council confirmed on 2nd December that “measures have been put in place” for the money to be repaid after it emerged no tree planting had taken place.

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd broke his silence on the issue over the weekend, insisting he was not “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

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  1. “As this may now be a matter for a police investigation, no further comment will be made.”

    Nah, he’s a Tory, it’ll be case closed & this is the last we’ll hear of the matter.

  2. Hopefully this review will not drag on for months. But as it took SCC ages to get a simple spreadsheet published following the FoI request my confidence levels are not high!

    As I said in my previous comment regarding this, the local Conservative party has a lot of questions to answer especially in their handling of Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd. The way they seem to be dropping him to fend for himself after spending years helping him to develop his career does not reflect well on them.

  3. This now seems more than just a simple failure to get a project completed. The issue of why the money still has not been paid back seems to be at the heart of this matter, plus the roles of those who backed the funding and why they supported it.

    Will there be a parry suspension for the individual/individuals who supported this as well?

    Or is the party just feeding this councillor to the lions?

  4. I wonder how much of this would have taken place if it weren’t for Lichfield Live’s investigation and the subsequent public anger?

  5. Yes this matter is of public interest but this is getting to be too much now. I am seeing politicians using this matter as an opportunity to further their own careers, without any thought of the effect their words are having on others.
    Fake pages being set up mocking Cllr Loughbrough might seem funny to some, but for me it now makes it so much harder to go out and shop without worrying about whether we will be confronted by readers of Lichfield Live. Shopping with social anxiety is bad enough already.

    Please Lichfield Live stop and think about the mental health of people who see the articles you post and the fact that your articles are essentially endorsing trolls.
    And yes I am aware that I could just avoid this page for a while, but your articles are appearing on Google home page and spotted Burntwood, 2 places I go for information.
    Please this constant updating on the story is affecting my mental health.

  6. @Cllr Loughbroughs Fiancee – we absolutely reject the notion that we are “endorsing trolls”. Any fake accounts that have been set up are not related to Lichfield Live in any way shape or form and we would advise you to report them rather than attempt – incorrectly – to link them to us.

    As you yourself point out, the issue is a “matter of public interest”. A councillor is a publicly-elected official, therefore their actions will always be subject to public scrutiny. Given this story has led to a six month suspension (the harshest punishment the party group could hand out) and still has many unanswered questions (and could potentially be referred to the police by the county council) it is certainly within the public interest and will therefore be reported on. Let us not forget that this is not an internal Conservative issue as the money was from the public purse – had Lichfield Live not pursued the story it may never have fully (or at least as fully as it has so far) come to light.

    While the issues being made public may be uncomfortable for those involved, there were and still are a number of questions that need answering relating to this entire situation. As a news publisher, we have a duty to ask those questions and seek answers. As I’m sure you will be aware, we have sought regularly to give Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd the chance to offer up his side of the story on a multitude of issues in recent weeks and continue to offer that opportunity to him on any future coverage or stories which may arise relating to his role as a councillor.

  7. Well said, Ross.
    The more light that can be shone on politics, and politicians, whether local or national, the better.
    An independent press ( often frowned on by politicians) is one of the best defences of our democracy!

  8. In response to Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd’s fiancee:

    A very good friend quoted one of his favourite writers to me recently: “A man’s character is not judged after he celebrates a victory, but by what he does when his back is against the wall.”

    I believe that in this case, one of the great thinkers of our times John Cena has hit the nail on the head with that piece of wisdom

  9. It is ironic that someone coming to the defence of Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd is complaining about fake social media accounts being created.

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