It’s now less than six weeks until residents across Gedling borough head to the polls.
This means you might hear a lot less from Gedling Borough Council as they have now entered what is called purdah – which has a huge impact on what they can and can’t say or do.
But what is purdah and why is it in place?
What is purdah?
Six weeks before polling day (May 2), Gedling Borough Council has to go into purdah – meaning they are restricted in what they can and cannot say or do.
The term ‘purdah’ comes from the Urdu or Persian word for ‘veil’ or ‘curtain’.
In Muslim or Hindu societies, it referred to the practice of screening women from men or strangers, often involving a curtain or women being covered in certain garments.
We use the word for this period in local politics as the council is seen as ‘screening itself’ from controversy by not taking certain decisions or issuing statements that could prove controversial.
In Gedling borough, it began on March 20.
What can Gedling Borough Council not do during purdah?
Between now and the polls closing on May 2, Gedling Borough Council can’t make any decisions which could influence or prejudice the outcome of either their own elections or others taking place at the same time.
This means they can’t announce new spending plans, launch any new strategies or publishing any form of new policy that had not been agreed before the purdah period began.
The Local Government Association has produced an exhaustive list of what councils definitively cannot do during purdah
Gedling Borough Council cannot do the following during purdah:
- Produce publicity on matters which are politically controversial (for instance, statements about Brexit)
- Make references to individual politicians or groups in press releases
- Arrange proactive media or events involving candidates
- Issuing photographs which include candidates
- Supply council photographs or other materials to councillors or political group staff unless you have verified that they will not be used for campaigning purposes
- Continue hosting third party blogs or e-communications
- Help with national political visits, as this would involve using public money to support a particular candidate or party.
What can they do?
During purdah, the council can still continue to make and publish decisions on more routine matters, such as planning applications or licensing applications.
Other normal council activities will still go on during this period e.g. bin collections, street cleaning, and issuing fines
They can also respond to information contained in a news story that might not be factual (for instance, a story may claim councillors have agreed to a 5% salary increase).
If a council is already running an ongoing campaign (e.g. trying to recruit more foster carers) or has a public consultation already under way (e.g. on developments sites within its Local Plan), it does not have to suspend these if doing so would lead to public money being wasted.
- To make sure you’re registered to vote for the elections on May 2, go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.