Purdah is the term used to describe the period in the lead up to an election. It applies to both local and general elections.

These regulations come into effect at least five weeks prior to an election, but can be a longer period.

A Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity was published by the government in 2011. It has a set of key principles that authorities must stick to, which include making sure any communications around this time are:

  • Lawful
  • Cost Effective
  • Objective
  • Even-handed
  • Appropriate
  • Considerate of equality and diversity
  • Considerate and show care during periods of heightened sensitivity

The main purpose of the regulations is so that authority communications don’t influence the result of an election. As such, the following rules should be followed:

  • Do not produce publicity on matters that are politically controversial
  • Do not make references to individual politicians or groups in press releases
  • Do not arrange proactive media or events involving candidates
  • Do not issue photographs that include candidates
  • Do not supply photographs or other materials to councillors or political groups unless it has been verified that they will not be used for campaigning
  • Stop hosting third party blogs or electronic communications
  • Do not help arrange national political visits – these should be organised by political parties with at no cost to the local authority

More information on purdah can be found on the Local Government Association website.