Frequently asked questions

The most frequently asked questions about purdah.


For the election in May 2018, the latest date the pre-election period could start is 26 March 2018.

No. The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity covers the full range of authorities.

Yes. As this year is a general election year, the guidance applies to all local authorities, even if there are no local elections.

Council business continues so all sitting councillors, whether seeking re-election or not, are bound by the Publicity Code.

Officers who hold politically restricted posts, or who are likely to be involved or employed in connection with the elections, should not take part in a political campaign or canvass on behalf of a political party or candidate. Please check local arrangements.

Trade unions themselves are not bound by the Code, but individual officers are, and must have regard to the Code.

Yes, but with limitations. Official, factual press statements about council decisions for public information purposes may still be issued. However, no publicity should deal with controversial issues or report views or proposals in a way which identifies them with individual councillors or groups of councillors.

Consultations should be considered very carefully during purdah as it is a period of heightened sensitivity and should not be put out if they contravene pre-election rules.

The best approach could be to delay publication of the review until after purdah. However, if there is an imperative to publish you should use another, non-political spokesperson.

Schedule 5 of the Representation of the People Act 19837 covers the use of meeting rooms in school premises for parliamentary elections. The Registration Officer is required to keep lists of such premises.

Councils are required to publicise details of the election and how to register to vote. Material relating to wider political issues should not be posted on official notice boards which may be seen by members of the public. This includes publicity issued by, or on behalf of, a trade union.

Councillors are free to talk to the media and issue press releases, but must not use council resources to do so.

Yes, as long as they don't use council resources (such as staff) to help them do it.

Councillors can continue, but must not use council resources (such as council twitter accounts, email accounts, telephones etc.) to do so.

A person remains as a 'councillor' and can refer to themselves as such until they retire on the fourth day after the ordinary day of election.

The guidance may vary by council. Generally reasonable requests by current members who are also candidates at the election to visit council establishments in the course of their council functions would be approved. Again, check local arrangements and any such visits must not be supported by the council's media team or council officers.

Yes they can. In fact it is to be expected. Councillors and those potentially standing for election can arrange to speak and canvass as long as these activities are not funded nor arranged by local authorities. The fact that the union is a charity has no bearing – the guidance applies to local authorities, not to other organisations.

Yes, if it is done in the ordinary course of business and meets all other purdah requirements.