Councillors’ privacy notice

Privacy notice specifically for councillors.

This privacy notice explains:

  • how personal information is going to be used
  • what it is used for
  • who it might be shared with and why
  • how long it is kept.

Personal and special category data

In order for the elected councillors to deal with your request for assistance or respond to your query, it is necessary for them to collect, store and process your personal information to provide you with the relevant information, services or support requested. This will generally include personal information, such as your name, address and contact information, together with details of your problem or concern.

The law treats some types of personal information as ‘special’ because the information requires more protection due to its sensitivity. This information consists of:

  • racial or ethnic origin
  • sexuality and sexual life
  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • trade union membership
  • political opinions
  • genetic and biometric data
  • physical or mental health
  • criminal convictions and offences.

It will only be necessary to collect this type of information where it is of relevance to the request you are making.

Data Controller

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) complies with the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is registered as a ‘Data Controller’ with the Information Commissioner’s Office (Reg. No. Z6413427). 

You can find details for the WSCC Data Protection Officer (DPO) on our Privacy Policy.

As a member of the council, for example, as a cabinet member or a member of a committee, the council is the registered Data Controller. Personal information held by the council will not be used for political purposes unless both the council and the individuals concerned agree.

As a representative of residents of their ward, for example, in dealing with complaints, the councillor is the Data Controller.

Councillors may represent a political party, particularly at election time. In this circumstance, the political party will be the Data Controller.

When campaigning for election as the representative of a political party, candidates can use personal information, such as mailing lists, legitimately held by their parties. However, personal information they hold in their role as representative of local residents, such as complaints casework, will not be used without the consent of the individual.

We ensure that your personal data is accurate, processed fairly and lawfully, kept secure and retained for no longer than is necessary.

The legal basis for processing personal data

Generally, councillors will use your personal information based on the public interest or substantial public interest condition when dealing with your request for assistance or responding to your query.
On occasions, councillors can rely on legitimate interests as a lawful basis for processing your personal data. The legitimate interest basis under the UK GDPR allows councillors to process personal data in ways that you would reasonably expect and that have a minimal impact on you, or where there is a justified reason for processing your data.

Councillors only rely on legitimate interests when processing personal data is necessary to achieve that interest and where it does not override your rights. Where a councillor wishes to use your personal data for a different reason, they will gain your prior consent.

If a councillor has your consent to use your personal information, you have the right to remove your consent at any time. If you want to withdraw your consent, please contact your councillor directly.

The councillor may also lawfully process a constituent’s data where:

  • it is in the vital interests of a data subject or of another natural person (where processing of the personal data is done to protect someone’s life)
  • the councillor needs to process your special category data to assist you, the legal basis the councillor will rely on is substantial public interest.

Unless the law requires or permits the sharing of information, for example, crime prevention or detection or the safeguarding of vulnerable children or adults, no personal information obtained by the councillor will be further disclosed other than for the purpose of progressing and responding to requests from constituents as outlined above.

How we use your personal information

Councillors regularly hold advice surgeries and respond to casework and policy queries raised with the councillor by residents in their ward. In order to provide assistance and respond to these enquiries where this concerns council business, it is necessary to process personal data relating to the constituent making the request and other individuals who may be involved or identified during the course of the councillor's enquiries.

Councillors will only be able to investigate the concerns you raise if they can use your personal information, for example, so they can contact you with the result of their enquiries. If your query relates to your own involvement with the council, then councillors will need details of this involvement in order to be able to assist you. Councillors will only collect the personal information they need to process your request or provide you with relevant information.

The councillor may also receive information from the council relating to individuals where the matter in question is being reported to a committee of the council.

Who we share your information with

Personal information about you will only be disclosed on a ‘need to know’ basis to a relevant organisation and/or individual who is able to provide information to help address or resolve your concern.

A relevant third party organisation and/or individual will be determined by the nature of the concern you have raised and therefore will vary from case to case. As an elected member of West Sussex, councillors will normally pass your personal details and the circumstances of your query/complaint to the relevant department within the council to enable them to look into the issues.

It is not unusual for constituents to raise issues about other bodies and therefore, if that happens, the councillor will need to refer the question/complaint to them. By way of example, these third parties are likely to include:

  • local and/or central government
  • elected representatives and other holders of public office
  • landlords
  • statutory law enforcement agencies and investigating bodies
  • healthcare, social and welfare advisers or practitioners
  • partners of local services.

Any third parties with whom your data is shared are obliged to keep your details securely and to use your data for purposes already communicated to you.

The personal information you provide, and may be received from organisations or individuals in the course of a councillor’s enquiries, will only be used to progress the problem or concern you have raised. Your personal data will not be used in a way that goes beyond your reasonable expectations.

If you specifically ask the councillor not to disclose information identifying you to other third parties, it is necessary for you to contact the councillor who will try to respect that. However, please be aware that it may not be possible to progress a matter for you on an anonymous basis.

See our Privacy Policy if you require more information about how we use this data.

How long we keep your personal data

Unless specifically requested by you, personal data held for the purposes of responding to requests received from constituents and obtained in the course of the councillor's enquiries will only be kept for as long as the law specifies or, where the law does not specify this, for a suitable length of time after the case/enquiry is closed (normally 6 years).

Your rights

See our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.


If you are dissatisfied with how councillors have used your personal information, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Last updated:
15 May 2024
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  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.