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Ukip targeting police chief post


Jack Clarkson is standing for Ukip

Jack Clarkson is standing for Ukip

Jack Clarkson is standing for Ukip

Ukip is hoping it can keep its current momentum going by securing the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) post following it recent by-election successes.

Voters are going to the polls across the Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster districts today to elect a new PCC following the resignation of the 2012 winner Shaun Wright in the wake of Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

There will be almost as much interest in how many of the 1,010,599 electorate bother to cast their votes as there will be on which of the four candidates wins when the by-election result is announced in Barnsley tomorrow.

Mr Wright's initial refusal to step down highlighted the fact that there was no way to get rid of a PCC unless they had committed an offence.

The saga surrounding his future further undermined confidence in the new PCC system, which had been dented first by the record low turnouts in 2012, and provoked furious calls for the law to be changed or the post to be simply abolished.

The Lib Dems have branded the coalition experiment with directly-elected commissioners a failure and pledged to scrap them. The party decided not to field a candidate in today's by-election for this reason

Labour has declared it is committed to scrapping them if it wins power in 2015.

Mr Wright only resigned after weeks of pressure following the Jay Report which revealed how more than 1,400 children had been exploited by gangs of men in Rotherham.

He was the councillor who oversaw children's services in the town between 2005 and 2010.

Mr Wright was the Labour candidate in 2012 and won on the first round of balloting under the supplementary vote system used in PCC elections.

But Labour's campaign to retain the post has been hampered by the controversy in Rotherham.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has insisted Ukip can build the party's recent by-election victory in Clacton and close second in Heywood and Middleton by getting its first PCC elected.

And his confidence has also been supported by strong Ukip showings in Rotherham's council elections this year and in the European elections in parts of South Yorkshire.

But Ukip only came fourth when Mr Wright was elected in 2012.

Another right-of-centre party, the English Democrats, came second two years ago and they believe they will still be the biggest rivals to Labour today's poll.

English Democrats chairman Robin Tilbrook said his party has a high profile in South Yorkshire in the wake of it winning the Doncaster mayoral election in 2009 and pushing Labour hard in 2012.

Four candidates have declared for the by-election: David Allen (English Democrats), Alan Billings (Labour), Jack Clarkson (Ukip), Ian Walker (Conservatives).

Mr Allen came second to Mr Wright in the 2012 election. He is a trained foundry engineer and a sales manager from Doncaster who is married with two children.

Dr Billings is a former deputy leader of Sheffield City Council and was once a parish priest in Sheffield.

Mr Clarkson is leader of the Ukip group on Sheffield City Council. He is former police inspector in the city.

Mr Walker is an engineer and a company managing director in Sheffield. He is married with four children.

The turnout in South Yorkshire in 2012 was 14.93%

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