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