Buckingham councillor Warren Whyte, the man in charge of the county’s failing children’s services has come under fire for “flaunting” his Tesla car worth tens of thousands of pounds on social media.
In May, councillor Whyte set up a Twitter account dedicated to the leased vehicle and has since posted more than 100 times about the car’s day-to-day-ventures – including trips to Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire.
He appears to tweet pretending to be the car under the handle @RedTesla75 writing: “My human is getting excited…the delivery date has been brought forward to Friday 22 June” and boasting he named the vehicle Whiplash – “thanks to its rapid acceleration”.
Environmentally-friendly Tesla – owned by controversial business mogul Elon Musk – specialises in electric vehicles which start at a price of £66,000.
However questions have been raised over whether the councillor tasked with providing services for the most vulnerable children in the county should be “flaunting” his expensive car in this way and dedicating so much time to the Twitter account.
This year children’s services were rated “inadequate” for the second time by Ofsted, while a council report published in May said the services are at “tipping point” after busting its budget by £1.7 million in 2017/18.
East Wycombe Independent councillor for Ryemead and Micklefield, Julia Wassell, branded the account “shocking” and said Cllr Whyte should be focusing his attention on helping the needy and vulnerable in the county, rather than tweeting about his car.
She said: “Rather than publicising his very impressive car he should be publicising campaigns and anti-poverty strategy for children in Bucks.
“I don’t think residents would appreciate it.
“It is most unusual.
“I can’t think of anything parallel to it in my 20 years as county councillor.
“Some councillors are extremely wealthy, and you have to have a certain amount of money because there are meetings in the day, but to flaunt it that way is quite shocking.”
Alka Dass, a campaigner fighting against the closure of the county’s children’s centres said there is “nothing wrong” with having a nice car, however she said she believed Cllr Whyte’s conduct is “inappropriate”.
She said: “I do think when you are in a position of responsibility, you have a public responsibility to talk in a certain way and be appropriate – so I would say it is not acceptable that he has done that.
“Warren is in a position where he has got a lot of eyes on him so he has to be aware of how he comes across.”
Cllr Whyte said he is “disappointed” that people have taken issue with the social media account as he had a “long-held ambition” to drive a Tesla due to his passion for electric vehicles.
He said: “It’s obviously sad to hear that my excitement and passion for my electric revolution on Twitter is being misconstrued.
“If I was driving a similar-priced car, but from a more mainstream marque such as an Audi, Volvo or Land Rover, I wonder if anyone would bat an eyelid?”
“My hobby is my car.
“I don’t golf, fish, smoke or partake in other expensive pastimes, and I am proud that through my hard work and achievements over the last 25 years that I can drive the car of my dreams.
“My work at the county council, and indeed why I stood for election in local politics in the first place, is to help create the conditions for everyone to have ambition and opportunity to have their own success story.”
Deputy leader of Bucks County Council Mark Shaw, said all councillors are provided with social media training including “guidance on appropriate and effective use”.