Rotherham: East Herringthorpe park named after the Chuckle Brothers 'will remind youngsters they can achieve their dreams'

A councillor who wants to name a park in the most deprived area of Rotherham in honour of the Chuckle Brothers hopes the name will remind youngsters they can achieve their dreams.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 3:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:54 pm

Independent Councillor Michael Bennett-Sylvester is spearheading a campaign to get a park in East Herringthorpe named after it’s most famous sons – the Chuckle Brothers.

East Herringthorpe is the most deprived ward in Rotherham, and the top one per cent of communities in the country affected by deprivation.

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L-R Councillor Michael Bennett-Sylvester, Natalie Bird, Alan Tunstill.

The level of child poverty in Rotherham East is the highest of any Rotherham ward and is over double the borough average – the area accounted for 16 per cent of Rotherham’s total number of low income households in 2018/19.

Councillor Bennett-Sylvester says the ward is full of ‘amazing’ residents, who volunteer in the community, and wants to name the park after the Chuckle Brothers to remind youngsters they can achieve their dreams.

When I meet Councillor Michael Bennett-Sylvester in East Herringthorpe, he is out on litter pick with volunteers who regularly head out to clean up the streets and take pride in their environment.

The Chuckle Brothers.

He tells me of a working mum in the area, who was left with just £1.10 to last her ten days, with two kids to feed, after she was moved on to Universal Credit.

“What do you do when you’ve absolutely nothing to be sanctioned?” he adds.

The story is not unique – most volunteers on the litter pick can tell me about someone they know who is struggling.

Natalie Bird was motivated to volunteer when she got ‘fed up’ of looking at the litter outside of her flat, and wanted to do something about it.

“I got disenamoured with the area,” Natalie says.

She called Councillor Bennett-Sylvester after struggling to leave her home, who helped her set up the litter picking group two years ago.

“It’s that once a week, I feel like I’mm doing something worthwhile,” adds Natalie.

“I got to a point, especially with rising gas and electric prices, I’m having to rely on people more than I thought. It’s a bit demeaning.

“You can’t live day-by-day [on Universal Credit]. When you get paid you have a good week, ish, then you just wait for the next pay day. It’s a bit of a nightmare for anybody.”

Natalie says the litter picking has helped her neighbours get to know each other, and they often help each other out, sharing food and looking out for each other.

“You have got the power to change things in your area,” adds Natalie.

Anne Tyrell, another volunteer, adds: “I don’t think you realise how many people there are, because nobody says anything.”

“The estate’s got a bad rep, but people take a lot of pride in it, and for a lot of people, it just gives them a bit of pride, and a lot of confidence to crack on,” adds Councillor Bennett-Sylvester

It’s not just Universal Credit that affects low income households – a lack of affordable regular public transport means people struggle to get to work, and spend a disproportionate amount of their wages on taxis.

It’s a barrier to access to cheap supermarkets that are not within walking distance – especially with kids and a weeks’ worth of shopping, which in turn leads to reliance on more expensive convenience stores.

Alan Tunstill, chair of East Herringthorpe Heritage Group, says there used to be five buses an hour on the estate – which is now down to two.

“And they don’t turn up,” adds Alan.

“There’s no amenities on this estate whatsoever. We’ve got nothing.”

This is why Councillor Bennett-Sylvester’s campaign to rename the park in honour of the Chuckle Brothers – who were born in Masbrough then lived in East Herringthorpe until their early 20s – is so important.

“You’ve got loads of kids that live on here in particular, they’ve got very low expectations. You can say the Chuckle Brothers were comics, but it’s hard work to do that on stage. They’ve taken their talents, worked hard and succeeded.

“It is that message – you can do that, there is that possibility.”

Councillor Bennett-Sylvester hopes to revamp the park with S106 funding from developers and funding from the devolved neighbourhood budget – and has asked residents for their name suggestions to honour the Chuckle Brothers.

To find out more about litter picking, or suggest ideas for the park, you can contact Councillor Bennett-Sylvester at [email protected]