The code

The Government published a new Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity in 2011.

The Government published a new Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity in 2011. The Code is based around seven principles to ensure that all communications activity:

  • is lawful
  • is cost effective
  • is objective
  • is even-handed
  • is appropriate
  • has regard to equality and diversity
  • is issued with care during periods of heightened sensitivity.

This last principle, to ensure special care is taken during periods of heightened sensitivity, is of particular relevance during the pre-election period.

In general, authorities should:

  • not issue any publicity which seeks to influence voters
  • ensure that publicity relating to policies and proposals from central government is balanced and factually accurate
  • comply with laws which prohibit political advertising on television or radio.

Directly elected mayor elections

Political activity connected with mayoral elections falls within the definition of local political activity and is subject to the same restrictions as local elections.

In line with local election rules, the combined authority and any constituent authorities must not publish information about the candidates or their policies through official media.

Any such information must also be removed from official web sites and other media.

The combined authority and constituent authorities may publish information about the election, the post of Mayor and the names of the candidates, in order to promote electoral registration and participation in the election.

The publication of press notices and information regarding the holding of the poll are exempt from these restrictions as is providing factual responses to specific requests for information.

At all times, local authorities should ensure that publicity complies with all applicable statutory provisions, including the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity 2011. Paid-for advertising must comply with the Advertising Standards Authority’s Advertising Codes.