“Too poor to play: children in social housing blocked from communal playground”

“At least one multimillion-pound housing development in London is segregating the children of less well-off tenants from those of wealthier homebuyers by blocking them from some communal play areas.

Guardian Cities has discovered that developer Henley Homes has blocked social housing residents from using shared play spaces at its Lilian Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street, south London. The development was required to include a mix of “affordable” and social rental units in order to gain planning permission.

Henley marketed the award-winning 149-home development, which was built in 2016 on the site of a former secondary school, as inclusive and family-friendly. It said the “common areas are there for the use of all the residents”.

But the designs were altered after planning permission was granted to block the social housing tenants from accessing the communal play areas. …”


So, who do you believe?

Scarily similar to East Devon! Maybe we should twin!

“Nick Meekins, mayor from 2010-11, has aligned himself with a group of former Tories who are to challenge for seats on Fenland District Council as independents.

Mr Meekins, who also wants to return to Wisbech Town Council, said those who had already left the Tory Party “confirmed my decision because the reasons they cited for leaving were almost identical to my thoughts”

He said: “I don’t think my opinions of the Tory leadership on Wisbech and Fenland Council should come as a surprise to anyone who reads the local press.

“In my view there are a small group of uber Tories who dominate the party locally, holding as they do key positions and ruling by selecting sycophants as candidates and threatening deselection to any Tory who may not completely toe the line, and being abusive/aggressive to non-Tory councillors.”

He said so far as Wisbech Town Council was concerned he felt it was a “poor decision and against professional advice” to take over Wisbech Castle.

Taking over public toilets and closing some of them was wrong, he said, and support for “hare brained schemes” was another issue. He cited the water clock and children’s playground for the market and the glass ‘watchtower’ in High Street as projects he disagreed with.

“Surely the town council should be working at realistic schemes that come within their remit that will actually benefit the town,” he said.

He also criticised “a Tory biased questionnaire using the town council staff to publish it. This is probably illegal” and “disrespecting the Union Flag” over the town hall as another reason.

Mr Meekins said he remained angry over the funeral last year of former mayor Patrick O’Dell when the town council did not send a representative.

At the time town clerk Terry Jordan said: “The council received no notification of any funeral arrangements. Notice of the funeral was given simply by way of a public notice in a local newspaper.”

He added: “I am fairly sure that the majority of the current Wisbech town councillors, who did not serve on the council at the same time as him, would not have known Mr O’Dell. Those who had served with him could make their own decision as to whether to attend the funeral.”

Cllr Steve Tierney, who is co-ordinating publicity for the Tory local election campaign, dismissed the rise of the independents – and others -in a blog he published at the weekend.

“Well it’s that time again,” he wrote. “The time when we all go out and ask people to come vote for us.

“The time when the opposition and the Usual Suspects start sneering, lying and slating the Conservatives – while claiming that it is the other way around. “The time when the Wisbech Standard begins its weekly campaign to get somebody, anybody, elected who isn’t a Conservative.

“The time when people nobody has seen in their ward for the last four years turn up and start pretending that they are a better alternative than the people who work all year around.” [Too true – but this applies to individuals of ALL parties!]

He added: “Never mind. The sun is shining. The air is fresh. And the people I am meeting in my ward as I canvass are very pleasant and very positive.

“I have every faith that the people in Wisbech broadly know the truth, no matter what smears the collective opposition try to run with.

“As ever, it will be what it will be. We shall see.

“See you all soon, on the doorstep. Looking forward to it!”


THAT local conservative party questionnaire: data protection experts really don’t like it!

Another correspondent has added more information on that (now looking rather dodgy) questionnare being circulated by our local Conservative party. Perhaps time for a rethink on it Tories?

Owl is no expert on this but it seems a couple of experts agree! But then again Tories (ie Michael Gove) don’t like experts!

“As someone with 25+ years experience in IT and with specific knowledge of data protection, I would say that your correspondent is spot on with their analysis except for the following respects…

When you are collecting the data you need to provide a Privacy Policy which states explicitly which of the 6 legal bases you are relying on to legally store and process the data, and if you are relying on the Legitimate Interests basis, then you have to state explicitly what the legitimate interests are.

Whatever legal basis you are using, you need to be explicit about the purposes for collecting the data and the uses to which you are putting it. Future use of the data must be limited to the specific purposes you have declared when collecting the data.

If you are not relying on any of the 5 legal bases which do NOT require explicit consent, then you need to collect and retain proof of explicit consent having been given for the SPECIFIC uses you will put the data to.

It seems to me to be impossible for the Conservative Party to use 4 of the 6 legal bases: Contract (no contract being formed), Legal obligation (i.e. required by law), Vital interests (life saving) or Public Task (i.e. by a legally official role for a legally official purpose – example would be for processing Council Tax).

“Legitimate Interests” generally would be those interests clearly implied by e.g. the survey i.e. to statistically analyse the survey. However, collection of personally identifiable information does not seem to be necessary for the statistical analysis of the information, so that would not seem to be a Legitimate Interests for storing that. In any case, GDPR clearly states that if you are relying on Legitimate Interest then you have to state clearly in the Privacy Information accompanying the data collection exactly what your Legitimate Interest is.

Finally, political data (which this rather obviously is) is considered to be “Special Category” data, and this requires a far stricter interpretation of legal basis as defined in Section 9(2) of GDPR which has much tighter requirements for implied consent, and stricter requirements on gaining explicit consent.

My personal opinion, therefore, is that the collection of this personal data is illegal under GDPR for several reasons, and the Conservative Party should immediately be reported to the Information Commissioner for illegal processing of data.

P.S. “Special Category” data is also likely to require especially attention to security to avoid the risks of it being stolen or inadvertently shared (or indeed accessed by even authorised people for uses beyond that for which it was collected), both during the initial collection of the data and in the subsequent storage and processing.

Indeed GDPR requires the Data Controller to have explicitly considered the security requirements for the data, and to be able to demonstrate this regardless of whether any data was lost or inadvertently processed.

It is possible that Conservative Central Office provides specially constructed IT infrastructure to allow the secure collection and processing of personally identifiable political data, but if not, then I would suspect that the local Conservative Association is very unlikely to have either the knowledge / skills / money to create such a secure environment, in which case they would be guilty of a further GDPR offence.”

Is the East Devon Conservatives election questionnaire breaking Data Protection rules?

An EDW blog reader who stresses they are NOT a lawyer or data protection specialist, but who has extensive knowledge of the subject, has this to say about the questionnaire currently being circulated by the local Conservative party as part of their electioneering:

“Your story on the East Devon Conservatives’ questionnaire led me to take a look at their privacy policy available here:


If you have contact with anybody who knows about GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, you might like to get them to take a look. My knowledge is better than average but not complete. However, I think the policy is dodgy:

Item 3 says ‘All processing is carried out by consent’. The problem here is that Consent cannot be assumed to have been given. It MUST be a positive action on the part of the data subject so in the case of the questionnaire that you mention, there must be a means by which respondents can give their consent to having their data stored and processed.

Item 3 adds ‘or public interest’. This isn’t a lawful basis for storing and processing data. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a list of the 6 permitted lawful bases here:


There are 6 lawful bases:

Consent (as I say this MUST be given by a positive action – it cannot be assumed to have been given or be ‘given’ by means of a pre-checked tickbox. Contract (e.g. if you buy something from an organisation, they can store your data in order to complete the contract).

Legal obligation (can be used if the organisation needs to store and process personal data ‘to comply with a common law or statutory obligation’. Vital interest (to be used if the data must be processed in order to protect somebody’s life so passing medical history to A&E if you have an accident falls under this one).

Public task (The ICO says that this one ‘can apply to any organisation that exercises official authority or carries out tasks in the public interest’. It would be interesting to see whether the ICO would consider the Conservatives’ distribution of election material to be in the public interest).

Legitimate interests (is a catch-all category but the ICO says ‘It is likely to be most appropriate where you use people’s data in ways they would reasonably expect and which have a minimal privacy impact, or where there is a compelling justification for the processing’. This is one that’s used, for example, by membership organisations because a member would expect the organisation to retain and process members’ details. Again, it would be interesting to see this one tested with the ICO in the case of the Conservatives.)

Overall, I think it could be argued that the Conservatives should be relying only on Consent when it comes to campaigning activities. Obviously Legitimate interest is the the correct lawful basis in the case of members of the Association. However, if they’re relying on Consent, the questionnaire must include a checkbox that respondents must tick in order to give their consent to having their data stored by the Conservative Association.

Item 6 relates to Special category data which includes some of the data identified in your story viz. ‘ethnic origin, political opinions, and religious, philosophical and other beliefs’. The Data protection legislation says that this data requires special handling. This is a complex area but it doesn’t look as if the East Devon Conservatives have understood it.

Item 8 is their data retention policy. They appear to be saying that they may hold the data for up to 10 years ‘two election cycles’. For ordinary voters who are not members of the Association, this looks to me to be excessive.

Item 10 appears to say that they’ll share people’s data with a surprisingly wide range of organisations: ‘entities of Political Party associations, federations, branches, groups and affiliates’. I doubt that this permitted under the legislation without specific consent.

Item 11 says, amongst other things, ‘you have the right to object to certain types of processing, such as direct marketing’. They appear to be confusing the Data Protection Act 2018 with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). This sits alongside the DPA but isn’t part of it. PECR governs the use of personal data for electronic marketing e.g. email, text messaging, telephones etc.

Item 11 also says ‘you also have the right to be subject to the legal effects of automated processing or profiling’ [my emphasis]. This looks like a typo.

Item 11 also says you have the ‘Right to judicial review:’. This seems to be a curious and confusing way of telling people that they have the right to complain to the ICO which is dealt with in Item 12.

I think one of the difficulties of this privacy policy is that it is trying to cover all instances of gathering, storing and processing of data by the Association. If somebody contacts their local Councillor or MP with, for example, a housing problem, then Legitimate interest would apply. The same is true of somebody applying to join the Association. However, to collect, store and process personal information gathered through the type of questionnaire you describe is probably (and I emphasise probably) in breach of the legislation.”

“Theresa May’s ‘NHS Long Term Plan’ spells more cuts and privatisation”

“… In January the government unveiled its much-awaited Long Term Plan for the NHS. It caused quite a stir. In the runup to the NHS’ 70th birthday, the Prime Minister committed to a real term annual 3.4% increase in funding for frontline care between 2019/20 to 2023. The “plan” reaffirmed this commitment. However, the problem with this commitment is that it simply doesn’t meet the needs of the NHS.

For a start, all independent experts including the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Health Foundation, Kings Fund and the Nuffield Trust have stated that this amount will only allow the NHS to continue providing the same level of care it is currently providing. In short services, won’t and can’t improve with this level funding.

In fact, it is more likely that performance will deteriorate once we take into account the context of an ageing population with long-term, complex and chronic conditions. All of the aforementioned commentators agree that a 4% increase is the bare minimum required to even begin improving services.

What’s more, none of this funding will be going towards public health initiatives. Historically, local authorities have funded services providing sexual health services, alcohol services, drug services and other public health services through the Public Health Grant.

A grant from central government to local government. But this grant has been butchered by the Conservatives. Between 2014/15 and 2019/20 it has suffered a real term cut of £700m. That amounts to nearly a fall of 25% per person across the entire country. As a result, improvements in life expectancy are now stalling – according to the Health Foundation think tank – for the first time in 100 years.

Similarly, the funding won’t be going towards capital expenditure. This is what allows NHS Trusts to spend on core infrastructure, both physical and digital. As well as medical equipment and medical devices such as scanners for cancer and ambulances. Between 2010/11 and 2014/15 capital spending was subjected to a 17% cut. In more recent years, its budget has been consistently raided in order to prop up social care and the day-to-day running of front-line NHS services. In 2018 Jeremy Hunt raided £1bn from the budget to go towards funding social care.

Not only is such an action perverse in light of the fact that the Conservatives have subjected social care to an overall cut of £7bn since 2010, it was also a brazen example of the short term thinking which has led to the breaking down of ambulances during last years “winter crisis”, the breaking down of CT scanners, blocked drains and sewage leaking into clinical facilities, leaks from ceilings going onto active operating tables and even the collapse of an entire floor of an NHS hospital. …”