The company at the centre of a controversy over funding for a tree planting project in Burntwood that never went ahead has been formally dissolved.
Nature Nuturing Community Interest Company was awarded £924 by Staffordshire County Council’s climate change fund for the initiative.
However, it later emerged that the trees were never planted – or even purchased.
The sole director of the company was Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd, with the money awarded prior to his election as a Conservative representative for Burntwood North.
But after it emerged that the project had not gone ahead, he was suspended by the controlling Conservative group for six months, forcing him to stand as an independent.
However, the company itself has now been formally dissolved after failing to register the required confirmation statement within 12 months.
Last month Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd told Lichfield Live he was “deeply embarrassed” by the controversy – but insisted he would not resign.
“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
The authority has previously revealed a review had been launched into how the funding had been allocated and distributed.
But despite confirming in December that Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd had been ordered to pay back the money, Staffordshire County Council has so far refused to confirm to Lichfield Live when the cash will be returned – or if it has already been handed back.
“We are carrying out an internal audit review of grants given under the Climate Change Fund and will report on the findings in due course.
“It would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage.”Staffordshire County Council spokesperson speaking to Lichfield Live on 19th December 2022
But Cllr Rob Birch, a Labour representative on Burntwood Town Council – where Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd is also a member – has also called for the cost of investigating the funding mystery to be paid back as well.
“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, Burntwood Town Council