Council fury over "personal details sold" claims
COUNCIL bosses have hit out at media reports which claimed they were cashing in by selling voter's personal details.
It had been claimed councils have been "raking in cash" by selling names and addresses from the electoral register to marketing firms who then use them to send out pamphlets and mails.
A report into the practice by Big Brother Watch found the register has been sold thousands of times by councils in the past five years.
However, as Big Brother Watch points out, councils "have no say in selling the register."
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Councils are mandated by law to make available for purchase the names and addresses of voters who do not opt out of being included on the list.
Andrew North, chief executive of Cheltenham Borough Council, said the report has been used as "an opportunity to knock councils with our parent government department joining in".
Mr North said the "clear implication" from some stories on the subject has been of "dodgy dealing by local government", something which he branded as "at least shoddy journalism" but "more likely part of a concerted campaign".
Cheltenham has sold the register nine times in the past five years, bringing in £682.
Mr North said: ''As required by law, we produce two versions of the electoral register.
"The full register is used for voting and this can only be viewed under supervision to protect the data.
"The edited register, if requested, has to be provided to third parties and we have no control over this as it's governed by law.
''While we are legally obliged to provide the edited register, it is important to point out that people can opt out of the edited version during each canvass, meaning their details will not be passed on."
Tewkesbury Borough Council sold the register 11 times in the same period, bringing in £310.
The council's group manager for democratic services Lin O'Brien said: "We have no control over this issue as legislation requires councils to sell the edited register."