Falkirk’s Garden Aid questions spark complaints

The gardening forms have caused an uproar
The gardening forms have caused an uproar

Elderly residents were stunned to be asked about their religion, race – and even sex lives so they could get their grass cut!

Renewal forms were sent out this week for Falkirk Council’s Garden Aid scheme, which sees contractors trim lawns and hedges for the old and infirm.

Now red-faced officials have been forced to withdraw the letter after a barrage of complaints.

They have issued an apology and will now send out new forms, all at additional cost to the cash-strapped local authority.

Officials claim they were required to ask the questions under the Equality Act 2010.

However, the councillor who is in charge of the housing department has accused those responsible of bringing shame on the department.

Questions asked included were they an A8 national – from one of the Accession states which joined the EU in 2004, including Poles – ethnic origin and sexual orientation.

One upset resident said: “I’ve never heard anything so daft in all my life. Why on earth do they want me to answer these questions?”

Councillor Gerry Goldie, convener of housing services, said: “I have never heard such lunacy. It’s George Orwell’s 1984 revisited.

“I am the longest-serving councillor on Falkirk Council and I can never remember anything which has brought so much disgrace on this department and anguish to our residents.”

Questioning what the information had to do with getting grass cut, he added: “In my opinion, the officers concerned have brought shame on the department and should reflect on their actions.”

Jennifer Litts, head of housing, said: “We are currently carrying out a re-registration exercise for the Garden Aid service.

“As part of this we have to gather equalities information which is a legislative requirement. However, residents do not need to complete this part of the form and this information forms no part of the assessment for Garden Aid.

“This should have been made clear in a letter which accompanied the form and we have extended the deadline for receipt of re-registration applications until March 13. We are also sending out a letter of explanation to all residents who received the form in an effort to clear up any confusion.”