Bosses at Staffordshire County Council are continuing to remain tight-lipped on whether money for a Burntwood tree planting scheme that never went ahead has been repaid.

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd’s Nature Nuture Community Interest Company was awarded £924 from the climate change fund prior to his election.

But it later emerged that the trees had neither been planted at Chasewater as planned or even purchased – and the business has now been dissolved after failing to submit required documentation.

The issue led to Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd being handed a six month ban by the controlling Conservative group at the council, with a cabinet member confirming at the start of December that the money would need to be handed back to the public purse.

However, a Staffordshire County Council spokesperson has again refused to reveal to Lichfield Live whether the funding had been returned, saying only that arrangements have been made for the money to be repaid.

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd, who will sit as an independent during his ban, has also failed to respond to repeated requests for confirmation on where the £924 currently is, despite previously admitting he was “deeply embarrassed” by the situation.

“I’ll face the music for what has happened and if 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 suspended 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.

“Pending those enquiries and discussions with the monitoring officer, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd is suspended from the Conservative group at Staffordshire County Council.”

Staffordshire County Council Conservative group spokesperson

Records obtained via a Freedom of Information request subsequently showed that Cllr Loughbrough-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, who has since gone on to become Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner.

The Climate Change Fund is administered by Staffordshire County Council with three categories:

  • Reducing carbon impact
  • Improving air quality
  • Adaptation to climate change

The details of who was awarded what was not made publicly available on the county council website, with the Freedom of Information request used to access details over where the funding ultimately 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 show it was incorporated on 27th July 2020.

But Companies House records revealed that despite setting up the company, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd did not submit the required confirmation statement within the first 12 months as necessary, leading to the business being dissolved – and adding to the uncertainty over how the funding might be returned.

Staffordshire County Council said before Christmas that a review into the funding scheme as a whole meant it could not comment on whether the money had been repaid.

A Conservative spokesperson said in December that the authority’s monitoring officer was conducting an investigation which could see the matter handed to the police.

Staffordshire Police told Lichfield Live last week that the issue had not been referred to them.

Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has previously said he has no intention of standing down from his remunerated position at the county council.

“I intend to stay on as an independent councillor – and I won’t rule out remaining so for the rest of my term as a councillor.

“Resigning – at least from the county council – is something I would not consider.

“One advantage of my current predicament is that for the next few months I will have the ability to express myself more freely and frequently than I have done before on the matters in my division of Burntwood North.”

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough-Rudd, Staffordshire County Council

But despite this, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd has refused to reply to any requests for comment from Lichfield Live since 10th December.

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10 Comments

  1. Keep it up Lichfield Live, one day we might know what happened to the money. I can’t see why they need that sort of secrecy with public money.
    You would of thought there would be a list of all projects, so you could see the fruits of are money, sorry the pun.
    Or is this just the tip of the iceberg

  2. Cllr L-R, do the right thing and resign, let the voters decide if you deserve your place on the council.
    SCC separately, needs referral to the police, no due diligence and no accountability of public monies for months.
    I remember a few months ago they were banging on about paying monies directly into Cllrs’ personal bank accounts…
    It beggars belief.
    If I had paid monies to a third party in my private sector job with no DD and no apparent audit trail, I’d have been sacked.

  3. I know one of Cllr Loughbrough’s closest friends who when I asked them about this told me to wait until after his grandad’s funeral which I believe is at the end of the month. I think he should resign and told his friend this. That would be the best thing to do at this stage and ensure this matter is put to bed.

    Scc should separately sack the cabinet member responsible for this and ensure that this year’s funding is as robust.

  4. Not sure if a freedom of information request is the right route to take, or if someone actually makes an official complaint to the police I think they are duty bound to investigate, that way if criminal behaviour has taken place, those responsible will be held to account.

  5. As a nurse within the NHS, if I’d applied for and then accepted funds for work I didn’t carry out, I’d expect to be sacked and face police investigation. Councillor TLR could end this now by telling us he’s repaid the money or by doing just that.

  6. Perhaps the question should change. Instead of “where is the money?” perhaps we should start asking Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd “what did you actually spend the money on then?”

    If the money was no spent on trees and if it has not been paid back yet – which these days is a very simple electronic transaction – then that could well mean the money is no longer available.

    In which case, Cllr Loughbrough-Rudd – what did you spend the money on?

    If it has been spent on anything else then surely that is a matter for the police.

  7. £924 for a few trees seems a bit steep. Maybe the said trees were coated with gold. This councillor sounds like he should have been a character in an episode of Only Fools And Horses.

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