Labour gain in low turn-out poll

The County Council election in Luton on Tuesday was a very unexciting affair, wrote The Luton News, of Thursday March 6th, 1919. The weather conditions may have had something to do with it, or it may have been wholly the indifference of the electors, of whom only about 15 per cent went to the polling booths.

As the Labour Party had found candidates to contest six of the nine Luton divisions a keener interest might certainly have been expected. But somehow County Council elections never do excite a very great amount of feeling locally.

Of their six nominees, the Labour Party had the pleasure of hearing one declared elected. Dr John Birch has ousted Mr W, R, Phillips JP, getting a majority of over 100 in a total vote of less than 250. It was only in Division 9, where Mr Willet Ball, having failed to secure a seat in a more august assembly, sought to get authority to have a voice in the affairs of the county, that there was anything like a moderately heavy poll. In that division nearly a thousand electors went and made their mark. The other end of the scale was in Division 3, whither the total number of votes cast was only 154.

The results of the nine Luton divisions were:

Division 1 (North Ward): Thomas Keens (Lib), unopposed.

Division 2 (North Ward): Milner Gray (Lib), 350; Mrs Alice Maude Slatter, 83.

Division 3 (North Ward): Stewart Butler Hubbard (Unionist) 116; Hedley Burgoyne (Lab), 38.

Division 4 (East Ward): Hugh Cumberland (Unionist), 173; Walter Buckwood (Lab), 103

Division 5 (East Ward): Dr John Birch (Lab), 177; William Richards Phillips (Unionist), 67.

Division 6 (East Ward): Henry Impey (Lib), 282; William James Mair (Lab), 124.

Division 7 (West Ward): Charles Dillingham, (Lib), unopposed.

Division 8 (West Ward): Albert Alexander Gibbs (Lib), unopposed.

Division 9 (West Ward): Harry Arnold (Lib), 574; Willet Ball (Lab) 411.

The counting took place in the Assembly Hall at the Town Hall. In case the crowd outside should be at all unruly, about a dozen special constables donned their uniform once more and reinforced the regular police. But as the crowd, at a liberal estimate, only numbered about 100, they did not have a very strenuous time.

The results were declared by the Town Clerk. In the six Luton wards which were contested, 15,740 people were entitled to vote, but only 2,198 cast votes – between 15 and 16 per cent. The highest proportion was in Division 6, where the percentage was just over 21, and the lowest in Division 3, where it was only just over nine per cent.