It seems that every parish/town/district/county councillor should be registered under the Data Protection Act and that they have to pay the £35 per year registration fee themselves to become a Data Controller in their own right in order to correspond with parishioners/residents/constituents.
Now we all know that every council has to be registered under the Data Protection Act and the Clerk is the Data Controller; I and everyone else I’ve ever talked to about this assumed that Councillors would come under some sort of global coverage but this is not the case.
Most councils rely upon their Clerk to handle all correspondence however, in larger councils the members do receive and respond to correspondence from individuals in their own right as Councillors.
Fortunately, Eric Pickles is on the case and plans to resolve this situation but it seems only in as much as the council will be able to globally register their own councillors and foot the bill.
In his speech to the Local Government Association Conference yesterday he said: “Currently, councillors pay a fee to the Information Commissioner’s Office to register as data controllers. This allows them to carry out constituency casework without breaking data protection laws.”
Under the new plans, councils can make a single registration payment on behalf of all their councillors, reducing the amount of paperwork and red tape. Mr Pickles also proposes parish and town councillors should be exempt from the data protection notification requirement altogether.
Mr Pickles said: ‘Clearly, councils and councillors need to protect their residents’ personal data. But this has become a tax on community volunteering. Councillors shouldn’t have to pay £140 over their term of office simply to be allowed to reply to their constituents’ letters and champion local issues.This common sense solution is a significant step forward that will reduce red tape on local councillors who are simply trying to do a good job for their residents.”