More than 60% are cancelled as political activity is restricted during purdah
More than 60 per cent of council meetings in Merton have been cancelled in the run up to the general election.
The council was set to hold 11 meetings between now and the election on December 12.
But of these seven have been cancelled. This is due to what is known as ‘purdah’ which applies in the pre-election period.
A Merton Council spokesperson said: “The council must abide by national guidance which restricts activity ahead of an election.
“To avoid allegations that meetings are being used for public comments on controversial subjects featuring in party political campaigns, it is usual practice in Merton to cancel council and committee meetings during the pre-election period, except where there is an urgent or time sensitive business item on the agenda.”
Guidance from the Local Government Assosciation (LGA) describes purdah as a period of ‘heightened sensitivity’.
Advice for local authorities states: “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, and comply with laws which prohibit political advertising on television or radio.”
By Tara O'Connor, Local Democracy Reporter
November 20, 2019