THE PRE-ELECTION PERIOD (FORMERLY PURDAH)

This is not a local council election or indeed a local authority election.  Therefore generally speaking your councillors are not facing election.  

We note that there will be a number of events taking place during the next 6 weeks and these can continue.  Councils and Councillors should be mindful not to demonstrate any political bias but can continue to promote the council’s non-political work.  Should they be supporting their local party, this must not happen at your council event or using any of your councils resources.

Here’s an extract from our Elections Toolkit, available to members to remind you of the rules when we face an election, you may find it helpful to bear this in mind and to share with your councillors.

  • Individual Councillors can generate their own publicity during this period but should not use Council events to publicise their election campaign 
  • Councillors can attend events organised by other organisations but mustn’t use them to publicise their election campaign 
  • The work of the Council can go on, Councillors can attend events, but Council cannot give publicity to any Councillor’s or political parties campaign 
  • Council staff must always be careful not to give the impression of supporting any political party or candidate 
  • Councils should not publish any material relating, in any way, to a candidate 
  • Council newsletters can be circulated as normal provided it is purely about local issues and remains a-political 
  • Councils should not publish anything on controversial issues or report views in a way that may identify the Council with an individual candidate or group 
  • No election materials, political posters or leaflets must be displayed on any Council premises or property including noticeboards. 
  • No Councillor is allowed to circulate any such materials before, during, or after, any meeting of the Council during this period 
  • Do not publish anything which may seek to influence voters


NALC – General Election 2024 Pre-Election Period

The pre-election period for local authorities will start from the publication of a notice of election. The Local Government Association’s pre-election guidance should be read in conjunction with advice from the relevant returning officer. Pre-election period restrictions apply to all local authorities, including local (parish and town) councils. The pre-election period describes the period immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on communications activity are in place. NALC’s  pre-election publicity guidance (login required)in the briefings section of the member’s area.

LGA pre-election guidance:

Is a superb resource. In particular the section titled ‘what this means in practice’ is a helpful summary of what councils can/cannot do. There is also a separate FAQs page which has further helpful information and particularly around what individual councillors can/cannot do Frequently asked questions | Local Government Association

Queries on specific meetings or activities:

This is a standard reply NALC has given to a question on approving at a Parish Council extraordinary meeting the Neighbourhood Plan for submission to the Borough Council. The key is, business as usual. The point of the pre-election publicity period is for councils to avoid doing anything that could influence voters or promote specific people or political parties. The council need to consider whether there is anything in the proposed meeting or activity that would do that and can go ahead if not. The council may find our recent briefing L01-24 on Pre-Election Publicity useful, it can be found in the briefings area of the NALC website.

What if a council is still unsure if it can proceed with an activity or has other concerns eg related to the conduct of individual councillors?

Advice should be sought from the Returning Officer or Monitoring Officer at the Principal Council 

When does the pre-election period start?

The pre-election period start date is not set in law but is considered to start when ‘notice of election is given’. According to the timetable published by the Electoral Commission this would be no later than 4th June at 4pm. This is subject to when your local Returning Officer publishes notice of election, and there is the possibility they publish it sooner including sometime on Monday 3rd June. Local councils should be guided by their principal authority elections team or Monitoring Officers in relation to these dates. Whatever date applies, the pre-election period is imminent and so pragmatic advice to a local council would be to suggest they start now to review their planned activities and public communications  to consider if it could be seen to be attempting to influence the outcome of the elections.