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Council accused of ‘rolling over’

Opposition leaders have called a financial settlement between West Sussex County Council and its former chief executive ‘a shabby cover-up’ and accused the authority of ‘rolling over’.


Cllr Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem) and Cllr Michael Jones (Labour) spoke out after the BBC learned that Nathan Elvery had been given £265,000 when he parted ways with the council in November.


Previously, the county council had refused a number of requests to reveal details of the settlement.


His departure came after the county’s children’s services and fire and rescue service were heavily criticised by inspectors, with a Department for Education commissioner saying control of the former should be passed to an independent trust.


Dr Walsh, who represents Littlehampton East, said: “To reward a corporate failure of this magnitude with a £265,000 golden handshake is an insult to all those affected, and to the taxpayers of West Sussex.”


Congratulating the BBC for ‘uncovering the truth of this shabby cover-up’, he said any claim the council had to economic competence had been ‘blown out of the water’.


A council spokesman said earlier that the authority had needed a ‘fresh start’ and took external advice on the terms of Mr Elvery’s departure ‘and the value to the council of resolving the matter quickly and moving forward’.


It was also reported that legal advice about the departure had cost the council more than £35,000.


Report by Karen Dunn, local democracy reporter

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