CITY councillors have raised concerns over a data protection issue, claiming that email correspondence between them and their constituents is being shared to a third party without permission.

Changes in communications to and from local councillors were brought forward at an emergency committee in March in a bid to cope with the number of increasing queries throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

It was decided that business managers would act as “a funnel for information and enquiries from elected members”.

The changes meant that constituent enquiries would be alternatively shared to the local councillor’s Business Manager, who would in turn direct the query to the Chief Executive’s department.

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Councillors now worry that private and confidential information from their constituents is being shared to different departments without permission.

The authority said that the body’s lawyers advise all 85 city councillors to publish a privacy statement that briefs members of the public on how their data would be handled at point of contact.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “In order to fulfil their duties as elected members, councillors may be required to share personal data with the council, arms-length external organisations or other third parties.

“As data controllers, all elected members must publish a privacy statement explaining this and they have been given advice by the council’s lawyers on how to do this.

“Having followed that advice, it is appropriate for them in the current unusual circumstances to pass enquiries to the chief executive through their business manager rather than directly.”

Elected representatives also fear that the board did not seek legal advice before the communications process was updated.

Councillor Thomas Kerr of the Shettleston ward said: “This practice was recommended to councillors in a paper brought to the Emergency Committee.

“As with all such policies concerning personal data, I trust that it was cleared by council lawyers prior to being brought before elected members.

“Revelations that this may have not been the case are deeply concerning.

Glasgow Times: Councillor Thomas KerrCouncillor Thomas Kerr

“When I was informed of this possible breach I immediately instructed Conservative councillors to stop forwarding details of constituent casework until we are satisfied that data protection rules are being followed.

“I look forward to this matter being urgently investigated.

“This issue has highlighted again though the need for proper scrutiny in Glasgow.

“While these are unprecedented times, it’s simply not acceptable that the only time opposition councillors can question the administration or council officers is on a private weekly call with no public accountability.

“The SNP was elected to be open and transparent.

“All over the country from Aberdeenshire to Leeds, councils are holding digital meetings, and it’s time Glasgow caught up so that these questions can be properly put to those in positions of power.”

Labour councillor Paul Carey of the Drumchapel and Anniesland ward said: “Let me make this crystal clear – if this is indeed the case, I do not blame the officer for this; the blame for this lies at the door of the minority administration.

“They presented a paper without, in my opinion, seeking legal advice on it.

“We are the largest city in Scotland and are being lead by an inexperienced administration.

“As a matter of urgency, we need to follow other councils in Scotland and get some form of full council up and running, similar to what other councils and both parliaments have already done.”

The Information Commission Office could not be approached for comment.