17 May 2016

Refuse truck removed on election day

There have been reports in the media about a refuse truck that was removed on election day.

The vehicle, which had been hired as a temporary replacement, had a flag image on the side which prompted questions about whether it was being used for political campaigning.

Councils have to pay particular attention to publicity during periods of heightened sensitivity before and during any election. The council has to take care not to publish material which appears to be designed to influence voters and to consider suspending hosting third party material.

Publicity is defined as “any communication, in whatever form, addressed to the public at large or to a section of the public.”

In making that decision the council asks ‘could a reasonable person conclude that we were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?’

Concerns were raised on social media by members of the public that the council was promoting a political campaign, so some people clearly did think the image on one of the council’s refuse trucks was of a political nature.

Therefore the decision was taken by the chief executive to take this particular truck off the road on what was an election day and replace it with a plain one.