The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has publically ticked off Walsall Council after hundreds of discarded postal vote forms for local elections were discovered in a skip.

The voting slips had been handled by a private contractor in March 2011 despite the fact that the Council had not formal arrangement under the Data Protection Act for the disposal of confidential data, which included in this case names, addresses, dates of birth and signatures.

A total of 951 voting slips were not recovered at all and are assumed to have ended up in landfill.

"While councils can hire contractors to process personal information on their behalf, they must remember that they are still ultimately responsible for ensuring people's information is kept secure," said ICO director of operations, Simon Entwisle.

"Obviously little thought was given to this when the statements were disposed of in the skip."

Walsall Council chief executive Paul Sheehan has signed an undertaking to ensure formal contracts are put in place for the disposal of all confidential data in future, the ICO said.