Privacy rules may have delayed some Dorset people getting help – according to Dorset councillors.

Several claimed that they, or volunteers, were willing to help the 16,000 residents who have had to shield themselves, but because of data protection laws could not be given their details – unless the individuals had expressly agreed it, and in some cases people did not have the capacity to give consent.

An analysis on Tuesday of how the council has performed during the first few weeks of the crisis was generally complimentary – but there were glitches and oddities.

In many cases these were not the council’s fault, but could be attributed to other agencies.

Examples included residents who received food boxes, although they did not want them, and were then taken off supermarket priority lists – but were unable to stop the boxes coming. In many cases volunteers collected them and handed them on to foodbanks.

Many of the volunteers who signed up to help have still not been given anything to do – while at the same time volunteers from Trowbridge and Swindon were dispatched to Dorset to help marshall at a local tip when it re-opened.

There have also been complaints about how Government grants were handled by the council – with businesses in North and East Dorset not being paid quickly while others in the county were.

Scrutiny committee chairman Piers Brown said he found it galling that as the Council issued a news release saying it had paid out £9m of Government money to businesses, nobody in his area had received a penny at the the time because of the difference in how the grants were administered, area by area.

Since then the council has paid out more than £90m of Government cash and is now the sixth best performer in giving grants in the country.

Other questions at the scrutiny committee, which lasted almost three hours, queried how decisions are being made – often by the council leader, alone, claimed Weymouth councillor Howard Legg.

But he was told that Cllr Spencer Flower had consulted others over the decision to keep toilets and car parks closed, including some town and parish councils, although the final decision had not been brought before Dorset councillors.

Cllr Flower said the pandemic simply meant that decisions often had to be taken quickly, often hour by hour, allowing no time for a democratic process.

Delegated powers were also used to stop council meetings being held and to close many council services.

The meeting heard that it could still be months before council meetings resume with key decisions made by councillors through committees.