Council accused of PR blunder by failing to honour comedy duo

It should have been an easy win for Rotherham Council: celebrating the success of two of the town's most famous sons, Paul and Barry Elliott - the Chuckle Brothers.

Paul, left, and Barry Elliott, aka the Chuckle Brothers (Pic credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns/Getty Images)
Paul, left, and Barry Elliott, aka the Chuckle Brothers (Pic credit: Ollie Millington/Redferns/Getty Images)

But a campaign by the Rotherham Advertister, backed by hundreds of readers, to have a town square named after the comic siblings, was rejected by the council’s scrutiny committee earlier this month.

Cllr Brian Steele, the committee's chairman, said: "As the Chuckle Brothers and their family are from Maltby, it is recommended naming a street or play area [after them] in new housing there".

The controversial decision to turn down the request for the square to be renamed Chuckle Square has been condemned by Andrew Mosley, editor of the Rotherham Advertiser.

"This seems like another massive council PR own-goal and a missed opportunity. Let’s face it, Rotherham town centre needs a good news story," he said.

The idea of naming the square after the comedy duo came about after the death of Barry last August.

Mosley held a meeting with a council officer and a member of the council’s comms team in a bid to have the council make a decision in September. 

But it came to nothing.

Mosley sympathises with the council’s comms team and told PRWeek: "I think they are definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place. They presented our idea and then the whole thing just stopped, which is probably more of a sign of the speed at which local authorities work."

He added: "It also shows that with large authorities, similarly with the NHS, bureaucracy prevents them from moving quickly and being able to engage with ideas from private businesses and residents who aren't caught up in the same red tape."

Unpopular decision

Several months on, the council finally took a vote on the proposal this month but rejected it.

Mosley commented: "The actual refusal of the idea was extremely disappointing, especially as we weren't given a reason for it, other than 'a tribute in Maltby would be more appropriate as that is where the brothers are from' – which is actually incorrect."

Paul Elliott told the Rotherham Advertiser: "Cllr Brian Steele has got his facts wrong. We were born and bred in Rotherham."

Fans of the Chuckle Brothers have attacked the council’s decision. Cat Potter tweeted to Paul: "I think it's disgusting. The council are wrong. You and Barry have brought happiness and laughter into people's lives. The least they can do is honour you both!!"

Another, Matty Jobson, said: "Rotherhams famous sons need recognition", while Twitter user The Secret Barista said: "Paul we are immensely proud of you and Barry. Bloody Rotherham Council. What a bunch of muppets."

Council response

A Rotherham Council spokesman told PRWeek: "Councillors sitting on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board debated the issue on 13 February after a petition was presented at full council by the local newspaper, the Rotherham Advertiser."

He added: "Their recommendation was to name a street name or play area in a housing development in Maltby after the Chuckle brothers, who had lived in this area of the borough."

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