Purdah starts today

SimonGeneral3 Comments

Today marks the start of what’s called the purdah period for communications for the UK local authority where I head up marketing and public relations.

Purdah period is the time from when a local or national election is called until the election day itself.

During this period public sector communicators are even more restricted than normal in what they can do. We already have a pretty comprehensive set of rules to keep to all the time.

The purdah period exists to ensure that there is no risk of public funds being used, or seen to be used to support one particular political party or another.

In practice it means most communications activity has to cease, as it’s difficult to predict what may become a political issue during an election campaign.

Of course the business of local government continues, and some communications are required to support this, but they are limited in number and scope.

Don’t get me wrong – we won’t be sitting around twiddling our thumbs from now until Thursday, 3 May. We’ve got some really exciting projects in the pipeline that need developing before they launch.

I’m particularly excited about a project to encourage local action and participation to reduce carbon emissions in Medway. At the heart of the project is a very interesting website featuring some social networking tools and an automated email marketing engine. I really believe the combination of the two will give us a really special communications tool for this important cause. More on that later though – it’s scheduled to launch in June 2007.

3 Comments on “Purdah starts today”

  1. Purdah is understandable for ‘officers in Local Government’, but it seems that councillors are using this as a way of not facing their electorate when the questions get tough and their actions are challenged.
    This cannot be healthy in a democratic society and should be challenged.
    Best regards, Ezra Leverett (Councillor)

  2. Hi Ezra,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – my understanding is definitely that purdah applies to officers, not members. The principle is that officers do not support the communication of political (or potentially political) messages in any way.

    Members are free to say whatever they wish at any point during their term of office, including pre-election periods – as long as during purdah this does is not or could not be construed to have been supported by council officers or resources in any way.

    As you say, to do otherwise would seem to go against the notion of scrutiny of those who hold public office.

    cheers,
    sw

    [edited for clarity]

  3. Pingback: Kathryn_emily_j (Kathryn Jones)

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