A senior Sleaford Town Councillor says he is mystified about how a confidential email from him to the council’s clerk about an employee’s pay ended up being broadcasted to 60 addresses including P&O Cruises, the Chamber of Commerce, Ramada Hotels and pub chain J D Wetherspoons!
Former Mayor of Sleaford, Coun Keith Dolby, who is also a serving district councillor in the town, was replying to an email from clerk Kevin Martin on Human Resources Panel business about a request for a regrading of pay for a member of the services team, who, luckily, is not named in the message.
In reply, Coun Dolby said: “I totally support this request. He is a highly skilled member of the team and his work rate when I have seen it is very high.”
However, when contacted by the Sleaford Standard, Coun Dolby said: “It was an internal thing and I do not know how it happened as it appears to have come from my machine. It is nothing controversial. I don’t know what happened to it, as far as I know I sent it to Kevin Martin and two other councillors.”
Among the list of names to have been copied in on the ‘strictly confidential’ email are: a London consortium of jewellers, Look North, Smooth Radio and other media outlets, Ramada Hotels, P&O Cruises, Pygott and Crone, J D Wetherspoons, Godsons and Chattertons solicitors, Turnbulls builders merchants and at least four ex-councillors including one who has been dead for several years.
Coun Dolby told the Standard: “There are people on this list who I have not spoken to or emailed for years and I don’t do bulk emails as I remember when I first joined the council a member sent an email complaining about an employee as a group email and the employee was copied in as well. I have no idea how this happened.”
As soon as he was alerted of the mix-up he sent another email calling upon all recipients to ignore it.
Former councillor and Mayor Brian Watson was shocked to also receive the message, branding it ‘a disgrace’.
He said: “It has gone to my private internet address that was given for the council to use on the understanding that they only send council business to me when I was Leader. When I left I was assured that email address would be deleted.
“I was advised by a computer consultant while on the council that we must be very careful to tick the right box or you could reply to all. This shows systems are not safe. That should be private and confidential, but it has gone to a hairdresser, among others.”
Sleaford Town Council clerk Kevin Martin responded to the security concerns: “The original email from me was to advise a number of councillors that there would be a report on the next council agenda.
“Coun Dolby’s emailed reply contained no personal or confidential information.
“It is not for me to comment on Coun Dolby’s personal email arrangements; suffice to say I will be reminding councillors at the meeting next week that care should be taken in all aspects of communication by electronic means.”