GDPR and plot letting solution

Below is a letter we sent to the Council on 19th May 2021 with a proposed solution to the GDPR issues affecting plot letting.
18th November 2021 Council has still not adopted our idea and lettings continue as slower pace.

Brighton and Hove Council recently stopped sharing the email addresses of people on the waiting list with Site Reps and BHAF due to ‘GDPR reasons’.  The Site Reps use the email to contact people to let them a plot and BHAF ‘s role is to represent plot holders.

BHAF believe that seeing as  people on the waiting list give their consent to having their email address passed to Site Reps to rent them a plot that there should not be any issue with doing that. (see Bristols solution in the doc attached below) Even if they did not give consent there is still a very valid legitimate reason, which is also GDPR compliant, for passing the email addresses to Site Reps; To rent them the plot they have applied for!

BHAF is also affected as we are set up to represent plot holders but are now in the surreal situation of not being told who we they are!

Despite not agreeing with the Councils interpretation of GDPR we were very concerned about the very slow rate of plot letting at a time when it needs to be the quickest. Over the pandemic many plots have fallen into overgrown states at the same time as we have the longest waiting list in history. So we came up with the solution below and emailed it to the Council back in May. We were told they would look into this but sadly there has been no conversation regarding our suggestion over 4 weeks later and the situation remains the same. 17.06.21

Update: 27.06.21 The Allotment Service did not reply to BHAFs suggestion but have now emailed Site Reps a new procedure for plot letting which I have attached as a word doc below. We think it is much more complicated and cumbersome than our suggestion and will seriously slow down the process at a time when it needs to be sped up. It also requires extra administration work within an already very stretched service. Our suggestion is more simple and uses resources already available (our website) and does not require the need for employing extra admin to carry out the process.

Update: 06.07.21 Attached below is a letter BHAF sent to the ETS Committee on 28.06.21 regarding the BHCC procedure and our recommendation for a simpler procedure. Currently no one from the allotment service has contacted us about our simpler proposal.

Update: 23.08.21 We have been informed that the allotment service will not be taking up our offer and using our suggested speedier and less cumbersome process and will be carrying on with their current process.


 

Dear *** Council Officer*** and *** Councillors***  19th May 2021

We have been thinking about how to help the Council in regard to the GDPR situation and sharing emails of people on the waiting list with Site Reps and have come up with a solution which would benefit us both.

As you know all sites are listed on the BHAF website and most sites have the contact details of Site Reps on those pages.

https://www.bhaf.org.uk/content/category/sites/sitelist

A lot of site reps now have email addresses specifically for the site eg

ExampleSiteRep@gmail.com

These are not personal email addresses. We could help every site rep set up a non personal email address and display that on each site’s page on our website.

This would mean that a generic email could be sent by the Council to people who came to the top of the waiting list saying

‘please go to the allotment federation website, look up your site and contact your site rep to be shown a plot’

Otherwise each email to people on the waiting list from the Council would need to be different… containing the email address of a different site rep for each site. (30+ sites) Looking that up and including it each time would take time and include the possibility of mistakes.

The email address on the BHAF website could stay the same as site reps could ‘pass on’ the email account when they retire or move on.

This would have a benefit for us too. The Council will no longer share the email addresses of plot holders with us. However, in directing people to our website to find their site rep they would have an introduction to us and be able to sign up to our email list if they wanted to.

Yours,
BHAF


The letter above followed this letter below sent on 10th May 2021 where we presented how Bristol City Council were dealing with GDPR and plot letting


 

Dear *** Council Officer*** and *** Councillors***  10th May 2021

It’s nearly 3 weeks since our meeting with you where we were told that BHAF and our Site Reps would no longer be given the contact emails of  plot holders or people on the waiting list due to GDPR reasons.

Our 30 plus volunteer site reps have been managing the letting of plots for decades and it was implied at the meeting that would now be done in house by the allotment office. As any site rep will tell you this is a very time consuming job.

As we raised at the meeting, this is very worrying as we currently have the highest waiting list for over 10 years (2467) with over 1000 people signing up in the last 12 months, most of whom will have paid £17 to join the list.

 

Data from BHCCWaiting List
March 20171038
February 20181127
March 20191172
March 2020No data
March 20212467

 

As far as we are aware lettings are still not taking place and site reps are contacting us asking what is going on. I emailed ***council officer*** straight after the meeting 3 weeks ago to ask what the new procedure was and nudged them again last week but I still have not had a reply.

It would have been good for us and Site Reps to have been consulted on any new process or at least be informed as to what any new process will look like.

We also had a discussion with the National Allotment Association regarding Brighton Council’s decision to not share the email addresses of our members with us anymore. They sent us the attached document (below) that Bristol City Council ask people on their allotment waiting list to sign which then clears them for sharing the emails for purposes of letting a plot to them and managing their tenancy. So it seems other Councils have found ways to maintain their letting procedures. It seems more sensible to find a solution like this especially when we have such a large waiting list which people have paid to join and which isn’t moving.

yours,
BHAF

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