West Sussex council boss leaves after leaked report

County Hall
Image caption Ofsted has rated children's services in West Sussex as inadequate

A second senior figure has left a county council after a leaked report suggested the authority should lose control of its children's services.

West Sussex County Council chief executive Nathan Elvery has been absent from his post since 27 September.

The council's leader Louise Goldsmith stepped down in October after a summary of a draft report by Children's Commissioner John Coughlan was leaked.

The council has only said Mr Elvery "left by mutual consent".

Lee Harris will continue as acting chief executive.

A council spokesman said: "We are not able to say anything further as it is confidential."

Mr Elvery was on a £190,000-a-year salary.


By Ben Weisz, political reporter, BBC Sussex

To this day, neither the council nor Mr Elvery has commented on why - although it came shortly after senior council figures saw a damning draft report on West Sussex's efforts to improve its failing children's services.

The council leader Louise Goldsmith announced her resignation the following week, citing the need for a new leader to prepare for upcoming elections.

I understand a financial settlement may be involved.

And Mr Elvery was away from duties on full pay. That pay alone would have cost the council more than £30,000.

An Ofsted report in May said children's services at the council had "long-standing, widespread and serious weaknesses".

Signs of neglect were not always recognised, with "profound consequences" for some, inspectors reported.

The watchdog then ordered a review of the children's services department, having found the council unable to guarantee the safety of all the children in its care.

The leaked review by Mr Coughlan, seen by BBC Sussex, was presented to senior figures within the Conservative-led council.

His draft report said the council had an "apparently casual disrespect for individuals" and a "hero-to-zero" culture, where those who angered senior leaders were ostracised.

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