Our media monitor, KEN LEE, discovers a former senior council figure courting controversy, again
Croydon Council old boy Nathan Elvery is back where he once had a regular home, in the pages of Private Eye.
The David Brent beard is long gone, the carefully coiffed quiff a thing of the past, but Elvery’s money-grabbing is very recognisable.
As Croydon’s finance chief, Elvery was a key figure in the multi-million-pound CCURV mess, and he was also involved in the appointments of Paul Greenhalgh and Barbara Peacock (executive directors who oversaw the borough’s failing children’s services), he promoted Graham “The Godfather” Cadle, as well backing his successor as CEO, Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini.
Thanks to council leader Tony Newman, Elvery rose to be Croydon’s chief executive (having started in the post on an interim basis in 2013), until he jumped ship in June 2016 to take a similar position with West Sussex County Council as their £190,000 per year CEO.
The Rotten Boroughs column in the latest edition of the Eye reports today that as well as his handsome salary, entrepreneurial Elvery also managed to land a £47,500 perk from West Sussex for “permanent relocation” costs when he agreed to take up his job at sunny Sussex by the sea. When leaving Croydon Town Hall, it was made known that Elvery wanted to spend more time with his family.
The relocation allowance should have entailed Elvery moving home from Epsom to Chichester. Except, more than two years later, the Eye reports that Elvery has never sold his Epsom family home.
West Sussex council rules state that the removal allowance must be claimed within six months. And the Eye has seen council accounts that show the money was paid to Elvery in the financial year 2016-2017.
But according to other public records, with the Land Registry and the electoral roll, Elvery and his wife are still resident at the Epsom home they bought in 2006, soon after Elvery had jumped aboard the gravy train in a senior position at Croydon Council.
The Eye reports: “Tony Kershaw, legal supremo at WSCC, in answer to a recent FoI request, listed invoices received in respect of the allowance: ‘…payments for temporary accommodation, for legal and estate agent fees associated with a property purchase and removal costs’.”
The Eye says that, “This statement is odd, not least because estate agents make their money by charging house vendors, not purchasers.”
There is a suggestion that Elvery may have bought a crash pad in pricy Chichester, but that would be stretching the rules, though probably just about legal. However, it might go against any undertakings Elvery may have given his employers at West Sussex about moving to the area when he was head-hunted in 2016.
None of the hundreds of Croydon Council employees who were made redundant during Elvery’s reign of terror on Katharine Street will have ever been given a generous wedge of public money to buy a second home.
Given the Eye’s robust evidence based on public records, it appears that Elvery’s bang to rights. His refusal to answer the magazine’s questions about his domestic arrangements would appear to confirm that.
Meanwhile, West Sussex County Council has to find savings of £145million over the next four years. But then they have an experienced axeman in Elvery (“Efficiency is in our DNA,” he said when at Croydon) in charge.
Trebles all round!
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It looks like he is starting to upset the locals in West Sussex. He now bleats about the Government financial repression of Local Authority Services. Just a shame he didn’t talk about this as he shamelessly chopped services in Croydon in the name of promoting his career.
Nathan’s been annoying the people of Sussex by the sea almost since he got there. Remember, before Elvery started trousering his £190,000 salary, the county council had somehow managed without a chief exec at all.
Whilst staff in WSCC have been urged to make more use of County Hall meeting rooms, it is reported that Nathan Elvery has just spent thousands taking the Council’s Directors on a two day, overnight, meeting at the 4 star Roffey Park Conference Centre.
Always enjoyed an awayday, normally at someone else’s expense, when at Croydon did Nathan.