Council business, publicity and events during the pre-election period (purdah)

The pre-election period is commonly known as purdah.

During purdah, there are restrictions on council business, publicity, events and communications. All council business and publicity must be politically neutral.

When is the next pre-election period?

The pre-election period starts when a notice of election is published and ends when the election is completed.

Purdah for the May 2023 local elections starts on Monday, 27 March 2023 and ends on Friday, 5 May 2023.

What does 'politically neutral' mean?

'Politically neutral' means that the action or publicity must not be seen to give a candidate, their supporters or political party an advantage in the election.

Normal council business during purdah

Normal council business will continue over the election period.

The exception is where a particular initiative, proposal, consultation or publication could be reasonably seen as not being politically neutral.

Formal decisions on matters that are controversial or not politically neutral should be scheduled outside of the pre-election period where possible.

Council premises should not be used for political campaigns, but they can be used for public election meetings.

Publicity and events during purdah

There will be special sensitivity for publicity and events during purdah.

All council-funded publicity and events must be politically neutral, no matter what the reasons are. Events arranged during purdah should not involve anyone standing for election.

Council-funded publicity shouldn't deal with controversial issues or report an individual politician or political party's views, proposals or recommendations. Photographs of individual candidates shouldn't be used.

Councillors and employees are allowed to respond to events and legitimate service enquiries as long as their answers are factual and not party political.

Some councillors hold key political or civic positions. If there's a genuine need to respond to an important event outside of our control, they're allowed to comment on it.

Publicity refers to any communication addressed to the public, including:

  • News releases.
  • Newsletters.
  • Consultation exercises.
  • Unsolicited letters.

Further information about purdah

The Local Government Association (LGA) has further information and guidance about the pre-election period.