Election “Purdah”

March 21st, 2013 by James Goudie KC

The period just before local authority Elections when there are restrictions on publicity is defined as beginning with the last date for publication of Notice of the Election.  In 2013 that date is Tuesday 26 March.  The restrictions apply from then.

Authorities must have regard to the “Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity”, issued under Section 4 of the Local Government Act 1986, revised in 2011, and available on the CLG website. Paragraphs 33-35 inclusive (Care during periods of heightened sensitivity) are of particular relevance. They provide:-

“33.     Local authorities should pay particular regard to the legislation governing publicity during the period of heightened sensitivity before elections … It may be necessary to suspend the hosting of material produced by third parties, or to close public forums during this period to avoid breaching any legal restrictions.

34.       During the period between the notice of an election and the election itself, local authorities should not publish any publicity on controversial issues or report views or proposals in such a way that identifies them with any individual members or groups of members. Publicity relating to individuals involved directly in the election should not be published by local authorities during this period unless expressly authorised by or under statute. It is permissible for local authorities to publish factual information which identifies the names, wards and parties of candidates at elections.

35.       In general, local authorities should not issue any publicity which seeks to influence voters….”


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