Another loss for Labour

Switching polling to a weekend to encourage more voters dealt Labour another blow tonight when just a quarter of electors in Watford, Hertfordshire, made it to the booths.

The Tories gained one seat, which cost Labour its outright majority on the council. Labour has now lost power in 16 local councils: its worst showing since Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997.

In an experiment to reverse a turnout slump in Watford, voting was moved from Thursday to Saturday and Sunday so electors who work would have more time to vote. However, the turnout dropped from last year's 36% to 27%.

Several pilot schemes were attempted by councils this year to increase voter enthusiasm, but the only clear successes were achieved by trials involving extensions of postal vote arrangements.

Many European countries hold elections over a weekend.

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