Suffolk residents affronted by personal questions in recycling survey

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Recycling survey asks residents about their race, sexual orientation, and gender identity

Residents in Suffolk have been left questioning the relevance of a number of personal questions that formed part of a council survey about waste recycling.

The Suffolk County Council survey was posted out to residents across the district and featured questions which one would expect (and even hope) to find on a recycling survey, including questions about recycling centre opening times and how local recycling centres are operated.

However, alongside the inevitable questions, residents were shocked to find themselves asked about disabilities, religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity. There was even a question asking residents to reveal whether or not they are HIV positive.

The survey has caused confusion and anger amongst Suffolk residents, who have queried the relevance of such intimate questions for a survey about recycling household waste.

One resident, named Alison M, went online to air her views, saying: “I can understand why Suffolk County Council need to know whether disabled people use their sites, but as for sexual orientation, it is no-one’s business.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk County County was quick to defend the survey. He said that the questions concerned with personal information were “entirely optional” and residents could choose to answer them or leave them blank but that those questions were relevant “to find out about the diversity of those who contributed”.

However, it is not the first time that the council has included equally personal questions on residential surveys. A questionnaire about the Orwell River Crossing in Ipswich and about plans for a new Sudbury bus station also asked people for their race, sexual orientation and other similar personal details.

The council commented further: “SCC understands that you may feel these questions are intrusive and highly personal. The information you submit is voluntary but it does make a difference.”

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