Details of payoff for former council boss won’t be made public until May

Nathan Elvery left West Sussex County Council in November after more than three years as its chief executive
Nathan Elvery left West Sussex County Council in November after more than three years as its chief executive

Details of any payment made by West Sussex County Council to its former chief executive officer will not be made public until May.

Nathan Elvery left County Hall under a cloud – or ‘by mutual consent’ as the council put it – finally severing ties in November having been absent on full pay since September.

The question about when the figure would be made public came from Liberal Democrat group leader Dr James Walsh at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (December 17).

He also questioned a £47,500 relocation payment given to Mr Elvery on top of his £190,000 salary, to help him move house –  though he was later found to have kept his family home in Surrey as well as a flat in Chichester,

Dr Walsh asked leader Paul Marshall: “Would [you] not agree that the relocation payment was not made at the time of his appointment but some 18 months later when a retrospective adjustment of the rules governing such payments was made.”

Mr Marshall said of the ‘financial arrangement’ with Mr Elvery: “We’re only able to disclose that when there is a legal duty to do so. None has arisen.

“However, any settlements, any arrangements, any financial transactions do have to appear in the accounts for the council and those accounts will appear on May 31.”

As for the relocation payment, he added: “I can neither agree nor disagree because I don’t have detail of when that particular decision was made.”

Mr Marshall said he would write to Dr Walsh once he had the details.

The meeting got off to a lively start when one member of the public – Roger Gould, of Chichester – tried to question members on the issue.

With no time set aside at these meetings for public questions, he was shouted down by members, with one bellowing ‘For God’s sake, man, shut up!’ when he tried to persist.

In a letter, Mr Gould said: “I left in disgust. West Sussex County Council will not tell the public anything and hides the truth on grounds of ‘confidentiality’.

“How democratic is that? They are public servants spending public money. They should be ashamed.”

A Freedom of Information request asking for information and financial details about Mr Elvery’s departure was rejected this week.

The council cited GDPR regulations, saying to answer the questions would be ‘unfair and unlawful’.