A new chief executive at West Sussex County Council has been officially confirmed on a £190,000 a year salary.
Nathan Elvery, who currently holds the same position at the London Borough of Croydon and is a married father of three, was selected by an appointing committee and this decision was approved by all county councillors at a meeting on Friday, April 15.
But the decision to spend £27,000 on a specialist recruitment agency as part of the hiring process was criticised as ‘quite shocking at a time of austerity’ by the leader of the Lib Dem group.
Mr Elvery said: “I’m truly delighted to have been offered this exciting role and I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the county.
“West Sussex has always had a special place in my heart. I feel honoured to be able to taking on this role and to be able to drive forward the vision and strategy which is already in place.”
He was born in Crawley and went to the town’s Thomas Bennett Community College. He started his career at Crawley Borough Council as a trainee accountant and has previously lived in Shoreham.
He worked at the Greater London Authority as its deputy head of core finance and then Westminster City Council as assistant director for finance and business management. He became director of finance at Croydon in 2004, then interim chief executive in 2013, a position that was made permanent a year later.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of the county council, said: “We are thrilled to secure the services of a chief executive with Nathan’s experience and I have every confidence that he will continue to build on the substantial transformation work that has been undertaken over the last few years. West Sussex has a bright and challenging future ahead and I look forward to working with Nathan and all our dedicated politicians and staff to achieve our ambitions for this great county.”
Sean Ruth is the current acting chief operating officer. His permanent role is executive director for communities and public protection and chief fire officer, and he will return to this position when Mr Elvery starts on Monday, June 27.
The last chief executive, Kieran Stigant, stood down in January 2014 and instead of appointing a replacement, the council created the two new posts of a chief operating officer and a transformation director, roles which were later merged in September 2014. Gill Steward, who was on an interim contract as chief operating officer, left WSCC earlier this year to become chief executive of the London Borough of Bexley.
Last week, James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group at the county council, said: “I do not have any problem with the appointment, but I do have a problem with the costs incurred in this.
“I think it’s quite shocking at a time of austerity and cutbacks in many council services that this council saw fit to spend nearly £30,000 paid to the headhunting recruitment agency to aid us in this process.”
Mrs Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) replied: “I think we are all aware of the financial strains this council faces and it’s exactly like others have and we did not embark on using consultants willy-nilly.”
She felt residents deserves the ‘very best person’ to lead the authority and thought £27,000 would be ‘money well spent’.
Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate and Three Bridges), who is also leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “I very much hope this marks a period of stability in senior management in the organisation as I think very recently it has caused an awful lot of problems for strategic decisions affecting areas including my own.”
Mr Elvery’s interests include cycling, golf, travelling, running, and charity fundraising as he has recently completed the Snowdonia Challenge for Regain, a trust which supports sports tetraplegics.
He is married to Silke and they have three children, Max (17), Charlotte (16) and Jasmin (12).
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