Car crash clip in tweet from council boss ‘crass and insensitive’

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

A social media post by a council chief executive including a short clip of a car crashing has been branded ‘crass and insensitive’.

Nathan Elvery, the top officer at West Sussex County Council since 2016 on a £190,000 a year salary, said on Twitter the warning signs from other authorities could not be clearer showing a fair funding review for local government was needed ‘to place our sector on a sustainable and long term funding platform or the austerity road only has one end’.

His initial tweet included a short archive clip of a car crashing into a wall, but this was then deleted and replaced with a dead-end road sign.

Joe Weir, South East region Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, described the original choice of image as ‘crass, insensitive and highly inappropriate’.

A county council spokesman said: “Local government faces its toughest financial challenge, with ever increasing demands on its services and a continued reduction in grant funding from central government. A tweet over the weekend highlighted the challenge being faced by two county councils and the imagery used was not intended to cause offence in any way.”

Labour county councillor Michael Jones said: “I understand it has upset firefighters who think it is in bad taste, which as they are the ones who have to deal with road traffic accidents directly when they happen is fair comment.

“What I personally found very striking about the intervention was how stark a message it was, coming as it does from a senior officer of a shire county. If people like him feel compelled to speak out against the unsustainable Tory funding of local government, things are very bad indeed.

“He’s speaking the truth, though. The council has drastically overcut, the effects are being felt everywhere. Now we get news the council is not even going to necessarily replace officers in front line services.

“Yet the Tory Government expects us to provide services with an income which is a fraction of what it actually costs. Every year is a financial crisis not of this council’s making. It’s so unjust.”