We can't influence the public at this time of year, says council

County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

County Hall, the HQ of Worcestershire County Council

First published in News Droitwich Advertiser: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

GUIDANCE on how councillors in Worcestershire should conduct themselves just before elections is going to be re-issued - to ensure politicians don't break the law.

The county council says it plans to send out its own in-house advice for elected members on how they should behave in the month leading up to voting time.

Under the Representation of the People's Act elected councillors can easily fall foul of the law if they take their publicity too far.

The so-called purdah period also puts rigid restrictions on councils, which are discouraged from making any statements deemed to give any political party an advantage as the count draws closer.

During a meeting to debate it at County Hall, councillors admitted many politicians elected for the first time in last year's elections may not be completely familiar with the protocol.

Simon Mallinson, the council's legal boss, speaking in a meeting of the standards and ethics committee, said: "Some of the time, this is quite a thorny issue.

"Fairly difficult issues come up quite regularly during the pre-election period, and that led to the creation of some guidance which the council has been using for the last few years.

"From my perception this has worked, there is much greater clarity now."

Councillors present at the meeting said they were very careful not to break the rules.

Councillor Rob Adams said: "I was very conscious of this last year because just before the elections I was finishing up as chairman of the council.

"I dealt with the purdah period by not attending any functions in my own ward."

Mr Mallinson said: "Your example is a very good one, you obviously took a very cautious approach, a laudable one."

The guidelines include strict prohibitions on councillors using at resources at County Hall for political advantage, like stationary.

Councillor Derek Prodger: "I think it would be useful for all members of the council if it was re-issued, particularly because we had a number of new people come in last year."

Comments (1)

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7:20pm Wed 7 May 14

3thinker says...

Is it just me, or does the recent announcement by the County Council of the 'surface dressing' programme seem to favour certain areas?

I know the County Council is a separate organisation to the City and District Councils, but with so many County Councillors also being elected members in the District Councils I hope the powers that be at the County aren't using tax payers money to favour areas where there are seats to be won or lost.

It was delayed by bad weather, but the last time lots of additional money was magically found for this type of work and against massive cuts on other vital services was in the lead up to purdah just before the County Council elections.

Perhaps something that needs further investigation?
Is it just me, or does the recent announcement by the County Council of the 'surface dressing' programme seem to favour certain areas? I know the County Council is a separate organisation to the City and District Councils, but with so many County Councillors also being elected members in the District Councils I hope the powers that be at the County aren't using tax payers money to favour areas where there are seats to be won or lost. It was delayed by bad weather, but the last time lots of additional money was magically found for this type of work and against massive cuts on other vital services was in the lead up to purdah just before the County Council elections. Perhaps something that needs further investigation? 3thinker
  • Score: 1

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