Croydon old boy Nathan Elvery, the man who did much to develop the council’s reputation for dodgy procurement processes and arrogant contempt for the public, is back in the news again.
Elvery, the former Croydon chief executive, has provided the lead item in the latest edition of the Rotten Boroughs column in Private Eye. Again.
And not in a good way. As usual.
Elvery was formally promoted to what was then a £180,000 a year top job in Croydon in 2014, shortly after Labour had taken control of the council. It was among the first and most significant decisions of Tony Newman’s administration.
But Elvery quit Croydon to take up a similarly salaried position at West Sussex County Council in early 2016. Things there did not quite go to plan, after it was discovered that Elvery was paid a £47,500 expenses payment for “relocating” to Chichester, yet had never moved out of his family home in Epsom. This scandal even involved the county council having to make an embarrassing repayment to HM Revenue and Customs for improperly claimed tax breaks.
The final straw for the good burghers of sunny Sussex by the sea came last autumn, with a disastrous children’s services inspection swiftly followed by an independent report that highlighted the local authority’s “bullying culture” and high turnover of staff, including “damaged” individuals.
The report was soon followed by the resignation of the Tory council leader.
After a spell on fully paid gardening leave, Elvery was sacked by West Sussex in November, though in his case this particular cloud had a significant silver lining: a £265,000 pay-off.
As the Eye notes, you can’t keep a good man down.
On his online personal profile, among his extensive achievements when Croydon CEO, Elvery claims that he…
- “Led the ‘Croydon Challenge’ transformation programme to achieve £100million savings for 2015-2019 and a balanced budget over the medium term”, which in fact means a round of swingeing job cuts, including some of the cuts which led to a dangerously under-staffed children’s services department, while Elvery boasted that “Efficiency is in our DNA”.
- “Led the borough under Gold Command authority to manage and recover from the riots in 2011 and floods in 2013” both of which occurred before Elvery was appointed chief exec.
- “£1bn redevelopment of retail shopping centre with Westfield and Hammerson”, and we all know how well that has worked out…
Undaunted by his set-back in Chichester, Elvery has recently been declared a “Fellow” of CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Clearly, CIPFA has set a very low bar for their jolly good Fellows.
But with no job offers flooding into his home in Epsom from other local authorities eager to take advantage of his particular skill set, Elvery has established his own consultancy firm (another one), Imagine Public Services Ltd.
Among his new company’s first tasks is to provide “strategic advisory and technical support for the establishment of a Target Operating Model (TOM) for a newly created Unitary Council in Dorset to support significant improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency for its communities”. Or in normal English: millions of pounds’ worth of job cuts.
This, Elvery has revealed, is being performed by Imagine Public Services in partnership with accountancy consultants, Ernst and Young, or EY as they now prefer to be known.
Now here’s a funny thing: when West Sussex CC made that repayment to the taxman over Elvery’s removal expenses, the matter passed completely without any mention in that years official report from the council’s auditors. Who just so happened to be EY.
“Just fancy that!”, as Lord Gnome puts it.
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