Councillor privacy notice

The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) allows councillors to collect and use the personal information provided by you to assist you in their official role as your local councillor. In this capacity, the councillor is the data controller. That means that councillors, working with Harlow Council, determine the purpose and means of processing your personal data.

Councillors will only use the personal data provided by you to support their role, for example, to allow them to undertake case work on behalf of individual constituents, to represent the interests of their constituency, and to further the interests of the ward in which they serve.

Your personal data

Personal data relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data. Identification can be by the information alone or in conjunction with any other information in my possession or likely to come into my possession.

Some of your personal data is classed as 'special categories of personal data' because it is the information that is considered to be more sensitive and therefore requires more protection. This includes information that identifies your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation and information regarding your physical and mental health.

For information on how councillors will protect special category personal data, please see the council’s appropriate policy statement.

The processing of personal data is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016 and the principles set out in it.

Processing your personal data

Councillors comply with their obligations under the GDPR and the principles of the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) by:

  • keeping your personal data up to date
  • storing and destroying it securely
  • not collecting or retaining excessive amounts of data
  • protecting your personal data from loss, misuse, unauthorised access and disclosure
  • ensuring that appropriate technical measures are in place to protect personal data, like password protection and only using Harlow Council equipment and encryption software to safeguard your data

Councillors have a legal duty to protect any personal data they collect from you - whether through written correspondence, online forms, or emails or when you telephone them.

Legal basis for processing your personal data

Councillors will only process your personal data where it is lawful to do so. The most common reason, under law, is the performance of a task carried out in the public interest. In relation to special category data, the lawful basis is that of substantial public interest. While councillors do not need your consent to act on your behalf, they may ask you to sign a form to help them clarify your concerns or interests and ensure you both understand how your personal data will be treated and in case they need information from other organisations to assist in resolving your query.

On occasions when they do need your consent, for example, to ask you to subscribe to their mailing list, they will ask you for it. You can withdraw your consent at any time, at which point they will stop using your personal data and securely destroy it.

Sharing your personal data

Councillors may need to pass your personal details and the circumstances of your query or complaint to council officers to allow the council to look into the issue. They may also need to pass your personal data on to a third-party in order to resolve your query, for example, other local authorities, government agencies, public bodies, health trusts and regulators. Any third parties with whom they may share your data are obliged to keep your details securely, and to only use your data for purposes communicated to you.

They will not pass personal data of constituents to anyone else unless they are required to do so by law or where this is in connection with a criminal investigation. By law, they may be required to share personal data for the prevention or detection of crime. These requests will generally come from the police, or another law enforcement agency.

Councillors will not use your personal data in a way that goes beyond your reasonable expectations in contacting them. If you specifically ask them not to disclose information identifying you to other third parties it is necessary for them to contact, they will respect that. However, please be aware that it may not be possible to progress a matter for you on an anonymous basis. It is not unusual for constituents to raise issues with councillors about other bodies and therefore if that happens, they will need to refer the question or complaint to them.

Keeping your personal data

Councillors will process your personal data until they have resolved your issue and store electronic data and paper records for the duration of their term in office. This is to allow them to build up a case history and to return to your records when further matters arise. Any information they hold at the end of their term in office is either passed to the appropriate council representative or securely destroyed.

Your rights and your personal data

You have the following rights:

  1. Access to your information – you have the right to request a copy of the personal data that is held about you.
  2. Correcting your information – you may ask to correct any personal data about you that you believe is incorrect.
  3. Deletion of your information – you have the right to ask to delete personal data about you where:
    1. You think that a councillor no longer needs to hold the personal data for the purposes for which it was originally obtained.
    2. The councillor is using that personal data with your consent and you have withdrawn your consent (see more details below).
    3. You have a genuine objection to a councillor using your personal data (see more details below).
    4. The use of your personal data is contrary to law or other legal obligations.
  4. Objecting to how a councillor may use your personal data - you have the right at any time to tell a councillor to stop using your personal data for direct marketing purposes. Councillors will only use your personal data to provide you with general updates on their activity as a councillor, and on events within their ward, with your consent.
  5. Restricting how a councillor may use your information - in some cases, you may ask a councillor to restrict how they use your personal data. This right might apply if they no longer have a basis for using your personal data but you don't want them to delete the data. Where this right is realistically applied it means that they may only use the relevant personal data with your consent, for legal claims or where there are other public interest grounds to do so.
  6. Withdrawing consent to use your information - where a councillor uses your personal data with your consent, you may withdraw that consent at any time and they will stop using your personal data for the purposes for which consent was given. Please email the councillor directly to withdraw your consent, copying in

Complaints or queries

Both councillors and Harlow Council try to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. If you think that a councillor's collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate, you should bring this to our attention. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.

If you have any concerns, questions or comments please email

If having exhausted the complaint process, you are not content that your request or review has been dealt with correctly, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate the matter further by writing to:

Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Changes to this privacy notice

Harlow Council keeps this privacy notice under regular review and if we make any changes, we will publish the updated version on our website. This privacy notice was last updated May 2024.