Council CEO runs up £657 bill for posh nosh meal

Croydon interim CEO Nathan Elvery: maybe he feels he has to run-off the effects of some tax-payer-funded posh nosh?

Croydon interim CEO Nathan Elvery: maybe he feels he has to run-off his posh meal?

Cut-backs at Croydon Council continue – to road cleaning services, to the lollipop ladies outside our schools, in the flogging off of uninsured public art collections and to a wide range of public services – but not, it would appear, to the chief executive’s expense account.

Spotted in the latest set of official invoices on the council website are three bills, all paid for by the Chief Executive’s Office, and all on May 1, all paid to The Chateau, the somewhat pretentious and some might suggest over-priced French restaurant on Coombe Lane (which is so beloved of the local Conservative party that they often stage their functions there).

The invoices, as published as a matter of public record by the council, are for

£511.00

£86.70

and

£60

All coming in at a tidy

£657.70

of Council Tax-payers’ money.

Was that all just for a working lunch? Maybe the CEO had taken a dozen of his staff out for a meal to celebrate International Workers’ Day?

Perhaps the 60 quid is a 10 per cent tip? Elvery may consider that it is always good to be generous to waiters and kitchen staff with other people’s money. Maybe the £86.70 was for a round of digestifs after a useful session discussing how well the council’s austerity measures are working?

Nathan Elvery has only been in the top job at Taberner House as “interim” CEO for a few months, but clearly he has no problem in signing off large cheques for entertaining and hospitality, just as he readily signs off redundancy notices for council staff.

Of course, had Elvery been a little more discreet and ensured that the bill only reached £499, then we may have never discovered such extravagance on the rates, since the law only demands that councils publish invoices for public spending for more than £500.

We have to assume that the meal was on council time, and not for any private business Elvery might have to conduct. Because – and not for the first time – Croydon’s CEO did not respond to our questions.

A rather snooty manager at The Chateau tried to claim that he had no recollection of having served a £600-plus table at his establishment recently – so business there must be doing better than at some of the borough’s restaurants. But then, if they are able to rely on regular and generous business from Croydon Council staff, they could be alright for some time to come.

This discovery comes in the same week that £3 million-worth of furniture was being moved into the £140 million glass palace which will soon be opened as the council’s new offices for Elvery and his well-fed chums.

Apart from being a bit peeved at not being invited to such a slap-up meal of posh nosh, we do wonder what local government secretary Eric Pickles would think of it all.

Trebles all-round!

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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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3 Responses to Council CEO runs up £657 bill for posh nosh meal

  1. davidcallam says:

    Large round tables at the Chateau will seat ten in comfort. Expenditure of £60 a head for the kind of slap-up meal with drinks that might be served on such an occasion is not excessive.

    I have hosted meals at the Chateau that cost £60 a head. If the deal done over dinner was valuable, then my boss would see the cost as an investment.

    Of course, I wasn’t spending public money. But does that matter, if Croydon’s tax-payers gained from the deployment of Mr Elvery’s charm and his silver tongue?

    It seems to me that the crucial questions are: how large was Mr Elvery’s party; what was the nature of the business discussed; and what was the outcome of the discussion?

    Will anyone tell us? Do pigs fly?

  2. Yes it is only £60 per head, but many families in Croydon only have that for a week’s food. It is about ethos, morality and leadership.

    In 1945 the Country united to rebuild the economy in far worse circumstances than now because the leaders understood the need for National Unity. Most adults had gone through two World Wars, there was huge fear that stark social injustices post World War 2 would spark social unrest and that the population could not be put through a 1930s experience ever again.

    When I first started work in the early 1980s leaders of public corporations prided themselves on their parsimonious attitudes and their sense of public service.

    We seem to have lost that sense of service and replaced it with some egotistical sense of entitlement. The World and the taxpayer does not owe anyone a living or a sumptuous lunch and if you need that to do business effectively with Croydon Council then something is terribly wrong.

  3. David Callam’s point of view is one that I can understand, but I don’t think it sufficient explanation in these circumstances for a couple of reasons. The first is that “entertaining” in business is usually associated with promoting and securing sales, yet I can’t think what Mr. Elvery is selling, unless it’s a large amount of recently discarded office furniture.

    Secondly, when I was working and sometimes had to take people out to lunch or dinner, it was always absolutely imperative that everyone knew the reason for the entertaining, and that the cost was appropriate. Hence, l could look work colleagues in the face knowing that they wouldn’t be left with the sorts of questions that Mr. Elvery’s escapade has led to.

    Bearing all that in mind, and as a stakeholder in Croydon Council, I’d ask him to be up-front and tell us what the business purpose of this entertaining was, and what spin-off benefit can be expected.

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