Leaked email shows Elvery wants to call in external PRs

Something dropped in to Inside Croydon‘s iPad inbox this morning from Taberner House which demonstrates that our deputy CEO is already planning ahead for a frenzied PR campaign that the council will be running when it opens the £450 million “Public Service Delivery Hub”, or PSDH, and its shiny new Town Hall offices.

The Croydon Hub development: Elvery wants the council to be "on message"

Not that Nathan Elvery seems to have too much confidence in Croydon Council’s own £660,000 per annum top team in its communications department to handle such a campaign.

Elvery is involved in the launch of the “Integrated Children’s Hub” (or in the acronym-speak so beloved of our council chiefs, ICH). The ICH – basically an office building for the council’s children’s services – is required because, despite handing over vast tracts of land, property and buildings to developers Laing as part of its £450 million deal, the council’s new offices won’t be big enough to include this department. Great planning work, people.

So another Hub, away from The Hub, is to be opened at Eldridge Road, in what was the Direct Line building. Which sort of undermines the idea of The Hub as, well, a hub, don’t you think?

“We need to be strong on messaging here otherwise we will not be able to use this test for the later PSDH launch,” Elvery’s sharp email snaps at a couple of senior staff.

Tim Pollard, the very busy Conservative councillor with so many jobs, is to be dragged away from his desk for a photo-op for Your Croydon (our very own “Town Hall Pravda“) and the local press, but for no longer than half an hour.

Pollard is very, very busy, after all.

Elvery: apparently he does use email

But according to Elvery, even such a routine press occasion is too important to entrust to the council’s internal communications department.

Our £150,000 per year deputy CEO Elvery (who infamously claimed “efficiency is in our DNA” as he slapped himself and his own council on the back) may reckon that expensive external PR consultants ought to be called in for such an important job. After all, this launch will be practising the spin that Croydon Council will be using for £450 million Hub. Or Fisher’s Folly as some of the denizens of the Spread Eagle are now calling it.

Here is Elvery’s email, to Matt Burrows (Croydon’s head of comms) and Aiden McManus (director of “service transformation”):

From: Elvery, Nathan
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:24:16 PM
To: Burrows, Matt; McManus, Aiden
Subject: RE: ICH


I think we need to be on the front foot with this, there will be an opening and naming of the building, this is part of the council reducing it’s asset base and saving residents money and this provides the building blocks of a successful service to support the children in the borough. We need to be strong on messaging here otherwise we will not be able to use this test for the later PSDH launch.

However  I am concerned that Internal Comms are leading this, External comms should have the lead and internal comms take the messages from this.

Can you link with Aiden to tie this up please.



Nathan Elvery
Deputy chief executive
Executive director corporate resources and customer services
Corporate resources and customer services department
020 8726 6000 ext 65781
mob: 07540 707448

Apart from the lazy grammatical error (what is it about Croydon Councillors and senior execs and the grocer’s apostrophe?), don’t you just love the empty language and tortuous logic?

We asked the Croydon Council press office for a comment. It appears that they have been left speechless.

Of course, Inside Croydon‘s regular reader, and Gavin Barwell, will recall that we recently published a council response to a formal Freedom of Information Act request for sight of all emails between Elvery and his hand-picked transport consultant.

In all seriousness, Croydon told us officially that there were no emails between Elvery, in his role in charge of council procurement, and the man appointed to advise on multi-million pound deals. None. Not one.

Yes, we could barely believe it either.

So we are relieved to see that Elvery does indeed send out emails, and we look forward to putting in to the public domain more examples in the future.

  • You can comment on any of the stories posted on this site (although we refuse to publish anonymous comments), or you can write your own article, suggest a subject for an article, or even send us an email you’ve received from Nathan Elvery, by emailing: insidecroydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to Leaked email shows Elvery wants to call in external PRs

  1. kriswith says:

    I know it isn’t clear but you may find that the distinction between internal and external comms doesn’t relate to expensive consultants. Internal comms would be the team responsible for communicating with staff, external would be the team responsible for communicating with the public. The difference is making this a public launch instead of a launch aimed mainly at staff.

    • Our sources are quite clear.

      Croydon Council has used outside PR consultants before, despite having an entire staff department based in Taberner House to produce “external” communications, including Your Croydon and handling the local media.

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