Are questions truly relevant?

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After seeing a display in Horsham Library about the rather vague proposal to site a new fire station at Highwood, close to the A24, I decided to submit my views on this via the West Sussex County Council website.

I wrote a few paragraphs giving my views on the choice of the site and on the next screen found I had to say whether I lived or worked in the town or had any connection to the emergency services. I can understand why this information is needed and also freely gave my age and email address.

The next questions wanted to know my sex, whether my gender is the same as the one assigned to me at birth, my ethnic origin (20 choices), my faith, whether I consider myself as having a disability, my sexual orientation, whether I was married (seven other options given) and lastly whether I was pregnant or had been in the last 26 weeks. Of the options given, one was always ‘rather not say’.

The temptation to give ridiculous answers to question 4 to 11 was very strong but I completed the form honestly and submitted it to WSCC. I hope it helps them plan the future.

There is a Privacy Statement at the head of the survey, but it didn’t explain why the answers to such personal questions are needed. I consider a survey on the siting of a new fire station should be just that. At least eight of the questions are unnecessary.

Article 5 of the EU GDPR states (amongst other things) that personal data must be: ‘adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary’. Is the information gathered from questions 4 to 11 truly relevant?

Of course I have also sent this letter to WSCC.

David Jessop

Downsview Road, Horsham