The new chief executive at West Sussex County Council is set to receive a £190,000 a year salary, it was confirmed yesterday (Tuesday April 12).
Nathan Elvery, who is currently chief executive at the London Borough of Croydon, was chosen for the role late last month by an appointing committee, and this decision is expected to be ratified by all county councillors this Friday.
As part of the process the county council paid £27,000 to a specialist recruitment agency, which it said was ‘standard practice’ for a job at such a high level.
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.
Until Mr Elvery takes his post Sean Ruth, who is chief fire officer at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service alongside his council role as executive director for communities and public protection, is standing in as acting chief operating officer.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of the council, said: “The county council has been evolving to meet the changing demands and needs of our residents whilst living in a difficult financial landscape.
“In 2014 we needed to transform our services and Gill was the best person to do that job.
“West Sussex is now in a strong position to be taken forward by a chief executive after the planned period of transformation and we are very excited about Nathan joining the team to drive forward the vision, strategy and balanced budget we already have in place.”
A spokesman for WSCC said: “The salary will be £190k. This is comparable to other local government chief executive positions and, based on current market data, is considered to be within the range of the going rate for a position at this level.
“The salary was carefully researched in order for it to be pitched at a level that delivers value for money but is still competitive to secure the best person for the job.
“The county council is faced with a very difficult financial climate. Central government has produced a worse than expected grant settlement and we are experiencing an increasing demand for our services. This means the job of the chief exec has never been more challenging. It is therefore crucial that we have the very best person for the job. And that means paying a competitive salary.
“The appointment process cost £27k. It is standard practice to use a specialist agency for a job at this level.
“We would be surprised to learn of any local authorities who do not use specialist agencies when recruiting to such a high profile role.
“We want to ensure we secure the best possible person for the job who will drive forward savings and efficiencies.
“This is a very competitive price for a service of this kind and we feel finding the right person for the job is worth incurring this one-off expense.”
Mr Elvery began his career in finance at Crawley Borough Council in 1995, then moved to the Greater London Authority as its deputy head of core finance five years later. In 2002, he joined Westminster City Council as assistant director for finance and business management, then moved to Croydon as director of finance in 2004, and after working in various senior roles, became acting chief executive in 2013. This position was made permanent in 2014.
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