Sarah Champion
Ukip candidate Jane Collins looks on as Labour's Sarah Champion gives her acceptance speech at the 2012 Rotherham by-electionGetty

Sarah Champion has been the Labour incumbent for Rotherham since 2012, when she won in a by-election with a majority of 5,318. Ukip came second.

But that was before the revelations of widespread organised sexual abuse of children in the South Yorkshire town. Now Ukip has ten councillors in Rotherham and will contest all 21 wards in May's local elections.

"I am concerned," she says in an interview with IBTimes UK. "Rotherham is one of their target seats and they are putting a lot of financial resources into it which, to be honest, I can't compete with. They are tele-canvassing every household and pay private companies to do that. I can't compete at that level."

In the aftermath of the ongoing scandal, Ukip will campaign aggressively on the back of two reports disclosing the failure of one agency after another to step in and protect vulnerable children from appalling abuse. Champion's opposition is Jane Collins, an MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire who lost out to Champion with 22% of the vote, Ukip's best result at the time in a by-election.

The party is now thriving on the back of public anger, presenting the scandal as a wider failure of the last Labour government's immigration policy and multiculturalism. But for Champion, who has previously said she works for the community over politics, her fears are for a town left in tatters.

"I don't mean to be unduly altruistic, but Rotherham needs an MP that is actually going to work for it because we have got a lot of work that needs to be done," she says, emphasising the damage to both the council and the community.

Sarah Champion
Champion won the 2012 Rotherham by-election with a majority of 5,318Getty

"What I'm really concerned about is everything getting caught up in politics," Champion says. "I personally would rather focus on putting Rotherham right, rather than the political gains that are going on at the moment. Ukip have put forward no plans for how they will help Rotherham and how they will prevent child abuse across the UK.

"I'm genuinely quite fearful that the town is going to start going backwards if they don't have someone commissioned to put it right."

Public confidence in the council's ability to protect children is low. Faith has been diminished so substantially that residents are denying they live in Rotherham. So what is next for the town?

It has been announced this week that five specially selected commissioners will take over the running of Rotherham council, after the institution was described as "unfit for purpose" for valuing its reputation over the town's most vulnerable citizens. Sir Derek Myers, Stella Manzie, Malcolm Newsam, Mary Ney and Julie Kenny will head the council until 31 March 2019.

"I really welcome these five commissioners coming in because their brief will be to put the town right," Champion says. "That is just going to be their purpose – they won't have ulterior motives and won't have a political axe. I want them in and I want to work closely with them. We need heavy investment."

"But what we need alongside this is for political parties to be putting forward candidates that are going to work for the town – not just politicians working for political gain. As soon as the Jey report came out, the victims and the whistleblowers all started coming to me because I was seen as a neutral. If they haven't got that, then what will they do?"