A massive loss of data. Extraordinary secrecy. Accusations of party politicking from a majority party that has for years overseen the debacle and is now busy evading the issue.
What on earth is going on in Woodbridge?
Firstly, why the party politics? I’m sure most of Woodbridge residents would totally support a non-political town council. Indeed, one wonders why Woodbridge Town Council – alone amongst its peers- wants to have a party-political structure at this level of local government. There is no equivalent in any similar town or parish for miles.
(This is exactly why the LibDems and Greens have stood down in the current Woodbridge Kyson by-election to offer the chance of better political balance to the town!)
Woodbridge Town Council are now admitting to losing ‘some data’ ? Some emails (they contend with increasing desperation) were deleted “possibly inadvertently or as a result of implementing the new GDPR legislation. ” The question is, how many emails is ‘some data’? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Astonishingly, the number seems to be closer to the last than the first.
Woodbridge Town Council add that “data was retrieved” – but don’t specify what data, and how much? Tens of emails? Astonishingly it might not even be as much as this!
If – instead of blandly asserting might is right – Woodbridge Town Council wants to demonstrate the transparency required by the 7 Nolan Principles of Public Life – which aren’t optional, by the way -it needs to man up and admit the scale of the current problem rather than going “into camera” (eg secretly) in order to hide the facts from the people Woodbridge Town Council were elected to represent.
But we, the people of Woodbridge, need to know.
We need to know on whose behalf these emails were written. Can Woodbridge Town Council confirm how many years of emails have been deleted? Can they tell us what these emails contained?
If they can’t do this, Woodbridge Town Council cannot assert they were unimportant.
The facts are simple- when it comes to data, it seems Woodbridge Town Council have no clear idea what it is they have lost and they are showing all the signs of a rabbit in the headlights. The current problem is not a matter of a few defective park signs. It is significant data loss: the deletion of many, many, many official emails.
Woodbridge Town Council asserts there is no problem because they say they can prove “no public money was lost”. But they are unable to produce the full audit trail behind their decisionmaking. All jobs over a certain sum need comparative quotes to ensure best value. Do we have these?
It seems Woodbridge Town Council would have grave difficulty in proving in the required detail how years of decisions, financial and otherwise, were made. I am very glad that they are taking a proactive attitude going forward, but we, the town, need a full description of all the horses they lost before they finally got around to buying a bolt for the stable door.
Additionally one must wonder whether Woodbridge Town Council has any idea of what commitments may have been made on behalf of its electors in the deleted emails? Wouldn’t it be better to face this possibility head on?
Finally why on earth did Woodbridge Town Council cover up this catastrophe by refusing to make it public to the very people it concerns! Their own personal embarrassment (for overseeing such a mess) is no answer. This is not Woodbridge Town Council’s money, data. It is OUR money, OUR data. The emails were on OUR behalf.
As a county councillor known for my impartial representation of all the people of the town regardless of party, creed, colour, age, gender and background I am deeply shocked and disappointed with the way so many of our town councillors are handling this embarrassing situation.