UKIP has ‘dipped a toe’ in South Yorkshire after losing in one town by just under 800 votes, the party’s crime tsar candidate said.
In Rotherham 14,228 people voted for Nigel Farage’s often controversial party, compared to 15,006 who chose Labour.
And UKIP said they were only a couple of dozen votes away from qualifying for a recount using second preference votes.
The party was in second place in not just Rotherham but in Barnsley and Doncaster too - but not Sheffield, where the Conservatives pipped them.
Labour had a 50.2 per cent majority based on first preference votes, electing Reverend Dr Alan Billings.
UKIP had high hopes of clinching a win by taking votes from disaffected Labour supporters following the Rotherham sex abuse scandal, which led to former Labour PCC Shaun Wright standing down.
Rev Billings said that Rotherham was the ‘epicentre’ for UKIP voters, adding: “We’ve shown they can be defeated and can be stopped.”
Former policeman Coun Jack Clarkson, UKIP’s candidate, said of losing: “That’s politics, one minute you are up, one minute you are down, but for today the main issue here in South Yorkshire is that it is pushing the party forward.
“We’ve dipped our toe in South Yorkshire – it was a bit of an experiment – but we know our voters will turn out.
“We were hoping it would go to a recount but missed out by only 28 votes, which was very disappointing, but we’ve had a lot more votes than in the last police and crime commissioner election which we are quite pleased with.”
Coun Clarkson also said Rev Billings had to ‘get it right’ or there would be further protests on the streets of Rotherham, which has been the focus for many demonstrations following the Jay Report.
He was also disappointed by the low turnout, adding: “I think across the county there’s been over 1,000 spoiled ballot papers – that’s an awful lot.
“I could have done with 28 of those to call for a recount!
“On some of the ballot papers I have been told people wrote the police ‘should not be a political football’ and ‘don’t politicise the police’ - I agree with those comments.”
Overall, Labour had 74,060 votes, UKIP 46,883.
Conservative candidate Ian Walker had 18,536 votes and David Allen, for the English Democrats and second place in the PCC election of 2012, had 8,583.
Some 2,299 votes cast were classed as rejected.
Messages of congratulations and good luck came in for Rev Dr Billings. Charity Victim Support said it was ‘looking forward’ to working with him to help victims.
Greater Manchester’s PCC Tony Lloyd said: “Alan brings both credibility and competence to the role of PCC, and will ensure he is accountable to the people of South Yorkshire.”
Labour – 32,867 votes
Conservative – 7,198
UKIP – 14,666
English Democrats – 2,937
Rejected votes – 1,091
Labour – 15,006
UKIP – 14,228
Conservative – 3,936
English Democrats – 2,044
Rejected – 481
Labour – 10,877
UKIP – 6,609
Conservative – 2,672
English Democrats – 1,288
Rejected – 355
Labour – 15,310
UKIP – 11,380
Conservative – 4,730
English Democrats – 2,314
Rejected votes – 372