Thursday 27th April 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

WTC: Yet Another Data Security Breach

December 16, 2014 Whitby Town

WTC: Yet Another Data Security Breach

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on yet another astonishing breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 at Whitby Town (Parish) Council, accompanied by the now customary incompetence of an already discredited Committee Chairperson. How on earth can they be so utterly useless?

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Background

Readers may recall my “Backstabbers” series of articles, outlining the extraordinary (and false) allegations made by Whitby Town Clerk, Responsible Financial Officer and Registered Data Controller Mrs Pam DOBSON against all bar one of the members of the Finance, Policy & General Purposes Committee.

Incredibly, in the light of this appalling saga of duplicity, there has now been another breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 – this time, a real one.

On 14th December 2014, I accessed the WTC web-site in order to examine the Minutes of the October Meeting of Full Council.

I was astonished to discover that the PDF document entitled Full-Council-Minutes-9.10.14.pdf was not, in fact, the document that both the URL-link and the title indicated – rather, it was a private and confidential Agreement, on Pannett Art Gallery headed-notepaper, between Councillor and thrice-Mayor of Whitby John FREEMAN and a representative of the York Museums Trust. The Agreement includes the names, contact details and signatures of the parties thereto. Subtended to the Agreement, the following words appear:

  • “A minute accepting this agreement must be made”.

One would hope that such a Minute would include, for the record, proper reference to the unauthorised publication of the Agreement.

On past form, one would be well advised not to hold one’s breath; nobody ever owns up, at WTC.

How, one might ask – in the hyper-sensitized atmosphere pervading the Council following the wrongly UPHELD Grievance of the Town Clerk against all bar one of the members of the Finance, Policy & General Purposes Committee (the Clerk excluded the Deputy mayor, Councillor Sean RIXHAM-SMITH) – how on earth could such an appalling error (if error it was) have taken place?

Even before this latest travesty of management, Councillors still presently face the very real threat of legal action from one of their own – Councillor Derek ROBINSON – who has effectively been found ‘guilty’, in absentia and without any investigation ever having been conducted, solely in virtue of his present membership of the Council’s Finance, Policy & General Purposes Committee, of a ‘non-offence’ that took place at a time some nine months before he was elected to the Council.

In such circumstances, one might reasonably expect both Councillors and Clerks to be super-diligent regarding any risk of ‘leaking’ sensitive private and confidential material. But this present infraction goes far beyond being merely an alleged ‘leak’; it is a clear case of slap-dash and irresponsible disregard for the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

As readers may imagine, I immediately reported the breach to the Chair of the Human Resources Committee (HR), Councillor Noreen “You can shove your camera up your arse” WILSON, who I believe is the proper person to whom such matters should be addressed. It is difficult to be 100% sure about this; I did try to access the Council’s recently-adopted Complaints Procedure – only to discover that, unfortunately, the URL-link to it on the WTC web-site produces only the following result:

Complaints_Procedure_URL

This is not helpful. However, and once again, unfortunately, it is typical of the general state of maintenance of the WTC web-site (which, by the way, cost the Whitby tax-payer £5,000+ to create and maintain).

Nevertheless, I followed my instincts and emailed Councillor Noreen WILSON, in her capacity as HR Chair, copying in all Councillors (with the exception of Deputy Mayor Councillor Sean RIXHAM-SMITH, who does not communicate by email) and, as a matter of courtesy, the poor lady from the York Museums Trust, whose personal data has now unlawfully been exposed to the public at large.

That lady (and a small number of WTC Councillors) very properly sent me a read-receipt in acknowledgement of my email. (My thanks to you all).

Unfortunately (yet again), Councillor Noreen “You can shove your camera up your arse” WILSON was not amongst them; she has neither acknowledged nor responded to my email. She dislikes me; I had the nerve to apprise the public of her disgraceful conduct.

Worse still, at the time of writing, the offending document is still available on the WTC web-site, compounding the initial infraction by continuing to breach the Data Protection Act 1998, two days after the breach was first notified.

Whitby Town (Parish) Council is an institution whose continued existence costs the Whitby tax-payer approaching £¼-million per annum.

I am unable to point to a single worthwhile accomplishment achieved by the Council during the five years in which I have scrutinised its performance. What I have observed is a continuing saga of internecine strife (amongst members, and between members and staff) that renders the Council unfit for purpose. I am not alone in this view; several of the more capable Councillors have made it known that they will not be seeking re-election next May (2015). This will further reduce the Council’s efficacy.

As for Councillor Noreen “You can shove your camera up your arse” WILSON, my information is that she does intend to stand for election, as a Labour Party candidate, to a seat on Scarborough Borough Council. That body, too, can ill afford another liability.

There has been much speculation around Whitby in recent weeks regarding electors’ aspirations to escape the clutches of Scarborough Borough Council. Into whose hands the best interests of the town should then be delivered is less clearly defined. There would appear to be no viable alternative; Whitby Town (Parish) Council could not run a bath.

Surely Whitby Town (Parish) Council should be abolished – if only to prevent further unnecessary suffering?

NOREEN_WILSON

Post Scriptum

For the record, I have never stated (as has been alleged) that half of the Whitby Town (Parish) Councillors are morons. Quite the reverse.

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