Drastic cuts in key education services by the controlling Tory group on Trafford Council are being blamed by the Labour opposition for a serious breach of the Data Protection Act affecting 1,300 children and infuriating their parents.
Due to what the Council calls “a processing error” parents who received details by e-mail of the secondary schools to which their children were assigned 12 months ago received another e-mail on Tuesday this week. This one provided information on the new schools which children would be attending from this September. The trouble is they weren’t their children.
Meanwhile the real parents of this year’s cohort of 1,300 children, who were expecting e-mails at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, were left waiting anxiously for information about which school their child had been allocated – and so, no doubt, were the children.
The Council is now having to prepare letters of apology to go out to both sets of parents and will be reporting the matter to the data protection commissioner. It is also investigating how the mistake was made by its Corporate IT department.
Trafford Council has already had a small number of calls from parents concerned that information about their children has gone to the incorrect e-mail address and more are expected over the next few days.
“I am horrified that this could have happened, “ Councillor David Acton, leader of the Labour Group on the Council, said. “Parent and children confidentiality has been seriously breached. There has been a monumental systems failure by Trafford Council and I’ve no doubt the Tories will be looking for someone to blame.”
“The fact is that the significant cuts made by them in school support and school admission services must have played a part. Council staff are becoming totally demoralised.
“We raised our concerns about these cuts at a budget scrutiny meeting a few weeks ago and more recently at the Council’s budget setting meeting but the Tories simply ploughed on regardless.
“The fact is that Trafford’s Conservative controlled Council has been sailing very close to the wind with their £21 million budget cuts, no doubt hoping to please the Tory-led Government. We believe this will lead to further significant service failures and deep service inefficiencies which will affect Trafford’s ratepayers.
“The Tories have tried to dupe people into thinking that slashing service budgets will not affect front line services. This incident, which is an extremely serious breach of the data protection act, shows that they are wrong.”
Press Release from Dave Acton on behalf of Trafford Labour Group