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.

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd
Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd

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.

He said:

“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

14 replies on “Councillor’s company at centre of controversy over funding for Burntwood tree planting project is dissolved”

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  1. No trees.
    No money.
    Now no CIC.

    Still no answers.

    Did any of it ever actually exist? Was it all a bad dream? Was it all made up? Will we ever know?

  2. With the company being wound up and Staffs CC refusing to confirm if the money has been repaid it is looking very unlikely that we will ever get a straight answer from anybody involved. The Councillor seems to have buried his head in the sand and despite earlier statements refuses to take ownership of the problem he has created.

  3. It’s really important that this story is kept alive. The contempt shown by the Tory Council for the council tax payers of Staffordshire is breath-taking. If the money has been paid back just tell us. If not there has been misuse of public funds just tell us and let us know what’s being done about it.

  4. The electorate will decide if this councillor is fit to represent them – hopefully soon. Wonder if this is a Police matter as clearly something very strange has been going on for some months.

  5. Totally unnaceptable but totally predictable. How hard can it be to just confirm with the public/ taxpayers by a simple yes or no. With this circus it appears to be very difficult. If a payment plan agreement has been reached then can we all be granted one for any wrong doings such as parking fines from the very proactive enforcement department of the council? I think we all know the answer to that one don’t we….

  6. If you’re reading this Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd all you’ve got to do is say that you’ve paid it all back and that you’ve since decided public office isn’t for you and that you’re going to do the right think and stand down immediately. This isn’t going to go away and the longer it goes on the worse you and your colleagues will look.

  7. I think it is time for the sound of “new-naw…nee-naw…nee-naw” to fill the silence created by the councillor and the County Council.

  8. This is a disgrace.
    The Cllr should make a statement about what he has done about paying the monies back. It’s our money after all.
    Then the council itself needs to have a deep dive into its own processes, procedures and due diligence etc – if it paid monies to a now non existent company which was incorporated under another name then that is appalling.
    These are public monies and we deserve the truth.
    Trust in politicians seems to be rock bottom right now and this really is a poor show from everybody concerned.

  9. “Direct Appeal to the Council”…. I’m afraid your post is anything but. You’ve made your appeal through an independent website.

    Maybe pick up the phone or write a letter and do it directly. The intended recipient is far more likely to receive the communication.

  10. Is democracy both locally, nationally and internationally now under such stress that its veracity is in question?
    The perception that Johnson, Trump and some local councillors do not follow the laws and conditions imposed on electorates is very damaging.
    We saw the storming of the White House this time last year and this issue is a long way from resolution. Unless those holding the reigns of democracy respect the responsibility that goes with it then history suggests we will finish up with something else. I cite Russia, France and Germany as recent examples but by no means exclusive.
    So how does this situation impinge on this Burntwood situation, and some of the actions of other local councils? Well it creates a groundswell of dissatisfaction which undermines the political system. Fewer people vote and take interest in local affairs. It really is the thin end of the wedge.

  11. Let’s just bombard the Council with FOI requests….?? They’ll get bored eventually and make a statement.

    I mean, it’s shocking and undemocratic to have to do that but, hey ho….

  12. What is the role of the council’s internal auditors and Ms. H. Henshaw of Ernst & Young the external auditor in the investigation of this sorry affair?

  13. An excellent newsletter from Ross this weekend on this particular subject. Thank you for the continued hard work you are putting into this story and everything else Lichfield Live does too.

  14. Why are we surprised that neither the Tory leadership of Staffordshire County Council nor the pretend-Independent/Tory Cllr Loughborough-Rudd are prepared to answer a simple question with a straightforward “Yes” or “No”? They are only following the lead of the Prime Minister, their party leader, who is widely acknowledged to be the master non-answerer of straightforward questions that might embarrass him. Johnson gets away with regarding voters and taxpayers with contempt, presumably this Staffordshire bunch assume they have a similar entitlement.

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