Data Protection Act means diamond weddings and centenarians set to go without well-wishers
FOR generations of centenarians and couples marking their diamond weddings, it has become a welcome tradition to complement the celebrations of friends and family.
But the long-standing policy that sees those reach the age of 100 or 60 years of married life receive a visit from a local provost or councillor bearing wishes – and perhaps a bouquet – is under threat.
National Records of Scotland, the body responsible for the country’s archives, has scrapped its policy of informing local authorities about the upcoming anniversaries of residents, claiming the practice is in breach of the Data Protection Act.
As a result, those celebrating a century on earth or their diamond wedding anniversary are unlikely to receive the visits from local dignitaries, although the traditional messages of congratulation from Buckingham Palace will not be affected.
A National Records of Scotland spokesman confirmed the instruction was issued to all local authorities, adding: “With regard to Buckingham Palace, the process of distributing anniversary cards provides a direct communication between the Monarch and her subjects.”
The change in policy came to light when a Fife couple celebrating their diamond wedding only received a bouquet after a councillor stepped in a fortnight after the event. Irvine and Louise Rae from Tayport marked the anniversary on 6 September, but did not hear anything from council representatives.
When a friend contacted Tim Brett inquiring as to why the couple received no recognition, the Liberal Democrat councillor discovered the change, which will apply to all local authority areas.
In a letter to Fife Council, Helen Bunyan, a team leader at the National Records of Scotland local organisation unit, wrote that it would “no longer provide your office with details of special birthday or wedding anniversary celebrations notified to us by a third party”. She added: “The reason for this instruction is that by providing this information we are in breach of the Data Protection Act”.
Mr Brett said: “It is a very sad reflection on society that we deem congratulating people for reaching such impressive milestones ‘a breach of data protection’. It is completely over the top and I am quite upset about it. In my nine years as a councillor, I have only come across a handful of people who did not want a visit on their special day. Most people really appreciate it.
“I just think it’s a great shame that some are missing out and I’m hoping common sense might come into this somewhere along the line.”
Mr Rae, 88, who fought at Dunkirk during the Second World War, said it was a “great pity” that the council was no longer informed of upcoming dates. He said: “It annoyed Louise and I a bit that it was late. You’d think the council would be told. Sixty years is a long time.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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