Mystery surrounding council boss Nathan Elvery’s absence deepens

Nathan Elvery, chief executive at West Sussex County Council
Nathan Elvery, chief executive at West Sussex County Council

The mystery surrounding the absence of West Sussex County Council boss Nathan Elvery has deepened as we can reveal he has removed his job title from a social media profile.

The council confirmed on Friday its chief executive, who is on a £190,000 a year salary, is ‘currently away from duties’ and provided no other details.

Both James Walsh, leader of the Lib Dem group, and Labour group leader Michael Jones have called for answers from the council’s Tory leader Louise Goldsmith.

But when the county council was approached for further comment to explain the reasons for his absence a spokesman said they ‘have no further information at this time’.

According to an internal email Lee Harris, executive director of place services, is covering the day to day running of the council.

In the past few days Mr Elvery has removed the words ‘WSCC CEO’ from his Twitter profile, which were present as recently as 8.55am on Wednesday, according to a previous version of the page, captured by Google.

He also took to social media at the weekend to share several cryptic messages.

He retweeted a cartoon which depicts two stalls one labelled ‘comforting lies’ and ‘uncomfortable truths’, with the former much busier than the latter.

He also tweeted: “Is this cup half full or half empty? The correct answer is both, but only one perspective will enable you to lead by your values, passion and create the culture needed to do great things.”

He added: “For anyone struggling to know which direction to go at the moment, follow the path your heart tells you, not the one you might be told to follow.”

During his time at the helm of the county council, the authority has received an ‘inadequate’ rating for its children’s services in May, and a critical report of its fire and rescue services months later.

Repeated questions have also been asked about a £47,500 payment made by the county council to Mr Elvery originally believed to be for his relocation to West Sussex.

However after it was revealed that he still owned his family home in Surrey alongside a new flat in Chichester, the county council said it had waived any requirement to permanently move to the county in his case.