UKIP have claimed Labour is ‘taking Sunderland voters for granted’ after their support rose at the polls in Wearside.
The anti-European party took second place in the majority of seats where they fielded candidates in the city.
In Hetton they won 1,351 votes, not far behind Labour’s 1,470.
Organiser Richard Elvin said: “I think it was a fantastic night for UKIP.
“We came second in almost every ward in Sunderland, and considering this was the first time we’ve contested many of these wards, the result is nothing short of being outstanding.
“We only had one disappointment: we had high hopes that we would win the Hetton ward, but unfortunately fell short by a mere 119 votes – but we’ll come back next year and I’m sure it will be a different story.
“At least we hope it will be.”
He added: “The people of Sunderland are beginning to realise that basically the Labour party is taking them for granted – they’ve blindly given them their support, and they’ve really got very little to show for it.”
Labour’s MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, strongly refuted this and vowed her party would battle to show UKIP for what they were.
She said UKIP were a right-wing party and it was Labour who had the best interests of working people at heart.
“We need to expose and to explain to people what UKIP really stand for. They are just a one-issue party and a protest vote.
“Some of the things they stand for, people would be quite surprised at, such as their view on women – they think women should predominantly stay at home.
“They don’t agree with statutary maternity pay, they don’t agree with the extent of paid holiday, workers rights – we need to expose some of that.”