HARRY MOTTRAM FEATURES FOR ICSM BUSINESS NEWS Sunak or Truss: which Conservative leader and Prime Minister would be best for small and medium sized businesses?

As the former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak and current Foreign Minister Liz Truss campaign for Conservative members’ votes, sole traders, the self-employed and business owners are wondering which one is the most business friendly? That is of course if they abide by their policy statements – and we must remember they are politicians.

Some of the headline differences do not have a particular bearing on business such as trans rights, immigration via boats in the English Channel or to a certain extent Chinese military expansion. Both are committed to supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia which is in line with the Boris Johnson administration. The war has had a big effect on European economies in the main but there is a knock-on effect to the UK but not as big as say to Germany where decades long policies have been torn up as Putin turns off the gas supplies.

The main difference between Rishi and Liz has been over tax cuts with the Foreign Secretary stating that tax cuts are vital now due to the rise in the cost of living. Reversing the increase in National Insurance and the rise in Corporation Tax will certainly help the economy in the short term as will cutting VAT on energy bills. That is one policy now adopted by Rishi Sunak who has said he would bring in tax cuts when inflation was under control.

Under Truss the economy would get a boost which would compensate for the high rate of inflation which is widely believed to be around 10% and growing. Inflation is what has sparked a wave of industrial action as workers see their wages cut in real terms. Cutting taxes would restore wage packets – but her critics say will also stoke inflation. Businesses do not like inflation in a highly competitive market as it squeezes profits hikes overheads and material costs and damages their customer base as clients look for cheaper alternatives. If Sunak’s plans to increase interest rates works by cutting inflation that would be welcomed by businesses but at what cost? As people cut spending due to interest rates going up and leaving them worse off that too would hit business. It’s a question of ‘you pays your money and makes your choice.’

On balance most financial directors would go with Sunak since he’s been the chancellor for some time and has gone through the books. He’s also being candid about the financial situation the country is in and is concerned about the huge cost to the exchequer of borrowing our way out of recession. That can lead to long term costs which puts the brakes on an economy. Critics will say that Truss’s Keynesian friendly policies will boost the economy and the increase in revenue will bring dividends.  

In short and in general employees, sole traders and the self-employed would prefer Truss’s policies while small, medium and larger businesses would welcome the more cautious Sunak as PM. Who ever wins will be on a short lease as the election is less than two years away with Labour enjoying a consistent lead in the polls.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel – while at the moment there’s a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach – ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

HARRY MOTTRAM FEATURES: When bombs fell on Bristol and dad shot down half an airplane

Castle Street destroyed. To the right is Bristol Bridge. The ruins are now mainly Castle Park

By Harry Mottram: When Britain declared war on German in 1939 the prospect of the conflict coming to the quiet streets of Bristol, Henleaze and Westbury Park seemed fanciful to some people. How wrong they were as before VE Day was declared in 1945 the city saw bombs, destruction and death on a scale not known since the siege of the English Civil War.

Bristol suffered hundreds of deaths from bombs dropped on the city with one bombing raid in 1941 lasting 12 hours of terror as 160 tons of high explosives wiped out large parts of Castle Street and Park Street. The Bristol Blitz as it was called lasted throughout the winter of 1940 and 1941 leaving some 1,300 dead and a similar number wounded and thousands of residents homeless.

It was a time when some of Bristol’s most famous buildings and streets were damaged beyond repair as the Dutch House, St Mary Le Port Church, St Peter’s Hospital and Temple Church were all gutted by subsequent fires. In St Augustine’s Reach and across the city the Home Guard manned anti-aircraft guns while above barrage balloons with their trailing cables attempted to snare low flying enemy fighters. My father Kenneth Mottram spent many a night manning one of the ‘ack-ack’ guns in Baldwin Street. His crew claimed to have downed an enemy Heinkel bomber over the docks as the bombs rained down. Sadly, the next day another anti-aircraft unit claimed the ‘kill’ and so the hit was shared as ‘half each.’ A very British compromise.

Kenneth Mottram manned an a gun in Baldwin Street and took out half an aircraft in the war

That period was the most intensive bombardment the city had undergone in history although bombs were dropped across the region from the outbreak of war until the 1944 D-Day Normandy Landings put pay to the reach of the Luftwaffe. In Henleaze bombs totally destroyed 54 and 56 Cheriton Place leaving the homes as a pile of rubble – but miraculously the residents escaped having taken to their Anderson Shelter when the air raid sirens sounded on April the 3rd, 1941.

This is Cheriton Place in Henleaze after an air raid

Henleaze Road took another hit during a daylight bombing raid when number 156 was affected by a close explosion blowing out the windows of Gill’s Hairdressers. It may well be that Henleaze on that occasion was not really the target as German bombers would jettison unused bombs on their way home – on this occasion the bombers could have been returning from Gloucester or on a raid on Filton and simply missed the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the confusion.

It wouldn’t have been the first-time bombs were dropped in such a manner, as towns in Somerset, Dorset and Devon often took hits from the Luftwaffe on their way back. Up on the Mendips the authorities constructed a dummy version of Bristol at night in order to confuse the enemy complete with lights indicating the railway yards. It’s comforting to think that the odd bomb landed on Blackdown amidst the bracken and gorse bushes rather than bringing death and destruction to Henleaze and Westbury Park.

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Bristol Voice Features: Keith Floyd remembered – the chef, his life, his Bristol connections and burning the candle at both ends

French food was his first love

An original, charismatic presenter that revolutionised how cooking was presented on television. With his bow tie, his glass of wine and enjoyably chaotic style Keith Floyd was a smash hit with viewers making him a global celebrity in the late 1980s and 1990s. Sadly there was another side to the charm brought on by too much booze.

Those with long memories may recall Keith Floyd’s restaurant in Chandos Road in Redland, not so much for his fame (as this was before his TV days) – but for the way he would come and chat with customers at the end of the evening – often with a bottle of brandy in hand.

And that was Floyd: a brilliant chef and a bubbling personality that was to make him a television ratings gold mine – and despite his untimely death at 65 the videos of his cooking continue to appear on the likes of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen years later. And few will disagree with Jamie Oliver’s opinion that he was the ‘most brilliant food presenter in history.’

Born in Berkshire in 1943, he spent his childhood and youth in Wiveliscombe near Taunton where his parents lived in a council house. Nevertheless, they saved enough to send the young Keith to Wellington School from the age of 10 to 16. Initially an outsider in the school he soon came to love life there and was devastated when his parents stopped paying the fees at the age of 16. He had seen reporters in the movies and fancied becoming one and so wrote a letter to the editor of the Bristol Evening Post. He wore a bow tie and a trilby to the interview, charming the editor Eric Price and started the following week as a reporter.

There he worked alongside the likes of Tom Stoppard and Roger Bennett who wrote the children’s column. Roger was married to the women’s editor Paddy who would ask him to babysit their children on occasion. On his own admission he wasn’t the best reporter, but it did introduce him to worlds far beyond Wiveliscombe. He met Peter O’Toole who was at the Bristol Old Vic – remaining friends for life – and he discovered food at the Hole in the Wall restaurant in Bath. And dining there with one of the paper’s executives (as he couldn’t afford the prices on his salary) was a transforming experience. It was as he described: “…just amazing food that most British adults, let alone teenagers, would never have seen. It was exotic.”

He burnt the candle at both ends

After a short stint on the paper, he left to join the army becoming a second lieutenant, but after a nervous breakdown he decided to leave the tank regiment and become a cook taking a job in the Royal Hotel in Bristol in the 1960s. It was not quite what he expected after the experience of the Hole in the Wall. The soup for instance was all from tins and the meat was overcooked along with the vegetables. He decided to move on and took work in France to discover real cuisine.

Although not a born and bred Bristolian the bon viveur and celebrity chef (before celebrity chefs were two a penny) Keith Floyd remains inextricably linked to the city due the restaurants he opened (and then closed.) There was the one in Redland, the aforementioned Floyd’s Restaurant in Chandos Road with a second restaurant with the same name in Alma Vale Road and the celebrated Floyd’s Bistro in Clifton’s Princess Victoria Street.

The book that made his name

In 1984 his parents were living in Sea Mills in Bristol, and he had just made a pilot TV programme which when screened would make him famous. At the time he was working in Chandos Road as he explained: “It was a busy place and I was the chef, the boss, the restaurateur. At two in the morning, I was usually in the restaurant, by the kitchen’s back door, putting out the bins.”

He was married to Jesmond Ruttledge, and had a son, Patrick, but then separated, sold up and sailed in his yacht to the Mediterranean but soon returned, this time with a new squeeze in Dolores. That didn’t work out but he did open a new bistro in Bristol funded by friends. The word soon got around about the bumbling bon viveur full of good humour, great character and fabulous food. He published a book with an introduction by Leonard Rossiter and soon BBC producer David Pritchard got in touch with an idea for a blokey cookery slot on TV. The rest is history.

Married four times, with a daughter Poppy and son Patrick, it is fair to say Keith Floyd was not a good dad, not good at marriage and not good at business. But he was a brilliant chef who could improvised and make jokes as he went along live on TV.

An alcoholic who grew worse as the years went on ending with an early death brought on by too many cigarettes and too much booze. That was one side of him which he never denied in his autobiography Stirred But Not Shaken. The side we all recall is that of someone who could communicate and cook at the same time without all the props of today’s TV chefs, often on a boat or on a beach, with the most basic of equipment. And make it look fun.

Harry Mottram

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BRISTOL VOICE FEATURES: From Homes fit for Heroes to council flats – and when prefabs appeared in Henleaze

Pre-fab homes in Bristol

By Harry Mottram: If you go down to Badocks Wood in Henleaze and head up towards the Southmead Round Barrow you may notice small patches of a tarmac surface within the grass that surrounds it. For once this area of greenery and woodland was a busy housing estate of pre-fabricated homes put up to house those who lost their homes in the war. Until as late as the 1990s the estate road at Southmead Gardens was still shown on the A-to-Z maps, and the road was still complete with a bus stop despite the complete disappearance of the homes.

Pre-fabs were initiated by Winston Churchill in March 1944, under the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act after thousands of people in London and elsewhere were left homeless due to Blitz and later V1 rocket attacks. Most were made out of a reinforced concrete panels, set within a steel or aluminium frame (with the metals often taken from scrap wartime aircraft). There were a number of designs with one constructed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton known as the AIROH design. The name stood for the Aircraft Industries Research Organisation on Housing – not the snappiest of titles but with 675-square-foot and a fitted kitchen table, inside toilet and a bathroom they were very popular as instant homes. They could be put up in just hours and cost around £1,600. By the late 1940s more than 150,000 had been built across the UK with around 2,700 in Bristol with the largest number in Ashton Vale.

The idea was they would last 10 years when the occupants would either buy or rent another home or move into a council house or flat. However, because many people loved their pre-fabs thousands of the homes outlasted their use-by date and were still lived in more than half a century later. In 2014 the Council finally replaced the last remaining pre-fabs with council houses which closed a chapter in their history – or so it was thought. Because once again pre-fabs now called ‘micro homes’ are being built in the city. Tiny numbers have been planned for large back gardens in Knowle West – usually for the siblings of the owners of the main house – and with 16,000 people on the housing list it’s one small solution to the housing crisis. The bulk of the new homes with some owned by the Council will be in high rise blocks of flats with many going up in Bedminster over the next couple of years.

Under the 1919 Addison Act, the first council houses were built in the phrase of ‘homes fit for heroes’ following the horrors of the First World War when some homes were destroyed by German bombs but there was a consensus that returning troops should move into new homes.

In Bristol these were sometimes known at the early parlour semis which featured an extra room on the ground floor making them popular with tenants since parlours were seen a status symbol – the best room where guests could be entertained. Around 2,000 were built in Bristol by the architect Benjamin Wakefield. Usually, semi-detached they also had three bedrooms and included bay windows at the front and had generous sized gardens. Non-parlour versions were smaller with only a kitchen and living room downstairs while there were also short council terraced houses with several homes joined in a terrace usually without a parlour which kept costs down. Today even a home like this in the general Henleaze and Horfield areas can fetch around £350,000 or more – when they would have originally been rented out by the Council for a few pounds a month.

In 1945 there was a renewed campaign to build more council houses with thousands more constructed across Bristol while the post war city saw new estates in Southmead, Hartcliffe, Kingswood and Sea Mills grow up plus council flats appearing in Ashton and Lawrence Hill.

Under the Conservative administration of the 1980s tenants had the right to buy which saw the decline in the numbers of homes owned by the council. It was followed by a period when no council homes were built in the city – although now in the 21st century it has come full circle with a huge programme of construction under way mostly south of the river.

There is an excellent booklet written by Tony Forbes and Eugene Byrne called Homes For Heroes 100, available in local libraries, which illustrates the history of council homes in the city.

Harry Mottram writes features for the Voice publications in Bristol and Bath and is a freelance journalist. Visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/

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Visit the last resting place of thousands of the poor and unwell of Somerset and Bath

Mendip Hospital Cemetery is the last resting place of 3,000 patients from the Somerset and Bath County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, later the Wells Mental Hospital and latterly the Mendip Hospital.

It is a site full of history and was saved from development for housing by concerned local residents, local politicians and members of the public in 2000.

Since then the site has been cared for entirely by dedicated volunteers and turned into a peaceful wild garden amongst the grave markers and the history researched and recorded.

It is a very unique place and the patients, and some staff buried there, shown due deference and through ongoing research their stories are being told and some are displayed in an exhibition in the chapel on the site.

Only open on Sundays during the summer with a mid-week opening once a month the volunteers are now planning to open, by booking, guided visits to local history, village or other interested groups to share this special place and learn about its history and learn about the lives and deaths of those buried there.

Many of those buried there are from the city of Bath and its surrounding villages

It is also a very beautiful and inspiring place with wild flowers, sculptures, a pond, woodland paths and would be an ideal place for an art or a creative writing group to spend some , be inspired and absorb the atmosphere.

There would be no charge but a donation to help support the volunteers continuing work would be most welcome.

If you are interested, please contact Clare Blackmore on blackmore.clare@btinternet.com or the Chairman Pete Jaggard on chairman@mendiphospitalcemetery.org.uk

For further details on the cemetery visit Facebook page Mendip Hospital Cemetery or website Friends of Mendip Hospital Cemetery.

Axbridge Pageant 2022

The Axbridge Pageant takes place over the Bank Holiday Weekend at 3pm daily of Sat-Mon, 27-29 August, 2022.

Tickets at https://axbridgepageant.com/ or buy tickets at Axbridge Post Office.

The official programme will be available in early August at £5. It is 32 pages of A4 in colour with cast list, scene-by-scene descriptions, the story of Axbridge and how the pageant was created with lots of photos of previous pageants. To reserve a copy ahead of publication FB message me.

Amble temporary parking will be available near the Square, detail soon.

Plus, music in the evening with Iain Ballamy and Friends, Friday, 26th; The Leylines and the Baler Twine Boys, Saturday 27th; Singing in the square, Sunday 28th; and The Stopcocks and Easy Tiger on Monday 29th.

Tickets available at https://axbridgepageant.com/

Axbridge Pageant began in 1967 and has been held every 10 years since and features a cast of 300 and charts the town’s history in 15 spectacular scenes featuring battles, riots, fights, high drama and pathos with live music, horses and livestock, plus a train and vintage cars.

There’s more information on the website, and our Friends of Axbridge Pageant 2022 Facebook group plus a one-minute film on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19iNSJdPIfA

We also post on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Telegram – do follow us and like and share – plus the Friends of Axbridge Pageant 2022 on Facebook.

Visitors can stay in a variety of hotels, B&Bs and guest houses in the town and nearby.

Tickets are selling fast for all of the days and the music events so don’t delay.

AGENDA WEST BUSINESS NEWS: Countdown to the end of funeral plan fraud on 29th July: regulator names firms YOU SHOULD NOT buy plans from (and lists ones they’ve approved of)

Following the scandal of the collapsed Safe Hands funeral plan company the Government’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published the names of two firms to avoid.

The warning comes ahead of the deadline when all firms in the lucrative sector must be regulated by law. Any that fail to be registered will be banned from trading – but until July 29th, 2022, when the regulations start anyone can offer the public funeral plans.

The FCA name Empathy Funeral Plans UK Limited and Unique Funeral Plans as two firms to steer clear of. They said: “We have been clear for some time that people should avoid buying new plans from funeral plan providers that have not applied for authorisation or had their application withdrawn or refused. We are repeating this guidance and strongly advise that you do not buy a plan from Empathy (Empathy Funeral Plans UK Limited) or Unique (Fox Milton & Co Limited, trading as Unique Funeral Plans).

There are nearly two million people who have taken out pre-paid funeral plans with some 65 companies paying on average around £4,000 each in the UK with an estimated 200,000 new plans sold every year. It’s a growing market but without regulation (declined by David Cameron’s Government in 2000) it has become something of a free for all since anyone can set up a company offering so-called peace of mind plans.

From 29 July, all funeral plan providers will need to follow new FCA rules, which include a ban on cold calling and commission paid to intermediaries, and high standards on governance and financial resilience. Funeral plan holders will be able to refer complaints about a firm to the Ombudsman and will be covered by the FSCS if their provider goes out of business. 

Emily Shepperd, Executive Director of Authorisations at the FCA, said: “As this sector approaches regulation, we want to provide holders of pre-paid funeral plans with some reassurance, which is why we have published a list of the firms we intend to authorise.  

“Our regulation will lead to higher standards in the market and boost consumer protection. We want to see an improvement in the way customers are treated, with better value products, better sales practices and better controls in place so consumers can be confident they will receive the funeral they expect.”

The FCA are still looking at a small number of firms but in the meantime have published a list of companies that will abide by the rules from the 29th of July: 

Alternative Planning Company Limited  

Avalon (Europe) Limited  

Avalon Trustee Company Limited  

Celebration Of Life Planning Ltd  

Central England Co-Operative Limited  

Co-Op Funeral Plans Limited  

Crystal Cremations Ltd  

Dignity Funerals Limited   

Distinct Funeral Plans Limited  

Ecclesiastical Planning Services Limited  

F A Albin & Sons Limited  

Family Funerals Trust Limited  

Freeman Brothers (this includes Peter Christopher Freeman and Bridgid Mary Freeman)  

Golden Charter Limited  

Golden Leaves Limited  

Haven Personal Funeral Plans Ltd  

Independent Funeral Planning Services Ltd  

Low Cost Funeral Limited T/A Affordable Funerals (this includes Memoria Limited)  

Peace Burials Limited  

Plan With Grace Limited  

Pure Cremation Planning Ltd  

Southern Co-Operative Funerals Limited  

The Independent Family Funeral Directors Ltd (this includes Fosters Family Funeral Directors)  

William Alty & Sons Limited 

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BATH VOICE FEATURES: The lost gardens of Wood House, the children who toiled in Twerton’s mills, and the blue fingers of the fulling workers

By Harry Mottram. Step through the woods of Carrs Wood in Twerton along the path and you will come to a laurel bush and a set of ornate stone steps.
The trees are mainly mature beech trees – a classic English woodland – so what is a laurel bush and these stone steps doing here?
They are the last traces of a once grand country garden belonging to the Carr family who lived in Wood House nearby.
Part of the house has been incorporated into the complex of buildings run by the Action on Hearing Loss (RNIB) off Pennard Green – but apart from that a few specimen trees, the extensive gardens attached to the 19th century country house are long disappeared. And in a way there is some social justice to the changes with social housing and a number of organisations helping to improve the lives of citizens from a school to a community resource centre now occupying much of the area.


Local entrepreneur Charles Wilkins constructed Wood House in 1838 and laid out the gardens while below in the village of Twerton his workers lived in comparative poverty.
Wilkins owned the fuller mills on the River Avon and employed many women and children in the industry – some as young as seven – whose fingers turned blue from the chemicals and dyes used in the textile industry.
He also sank a coal mine nearby, again employing children amongst his workforce and like many a Victorian businessman also helped to improve some of the infrastructure of the area such as the roads.
The estate and ownership of the mills was acquired by the Carr family in 1847 who lived in the big house and dominated village life right through into the 20th century. A sad reflection on society that one family could live in such luxury while below their home in Twerton toiled children in what local author Joe Scofield described as ‘appalling conditions’.
Joe spoke to Somerset Live when he published his novel A Dark Past which although set in the here and now echoes the lives of the children who worked in the mills owned by the Carr family.


He told Eddie Bingham: “There were recently some student lots built on the site of the mill and it would be nice to commemorate the generations of people who worked there. They endured appalling conditions to produce some of the finest woollen cloth in the world and they’re completely forgotten about”.
His point was the lives of ordinary people and women and children workers in particular who created the wealth for the Carrs were passed over in the collective memory of the village.
Thankfully by the time the Carrs took over the mills the 1833 Factory Act banned children under nine from employment in the mills but it wasn’t until 1901 that children under 13 could no longer be employed as full time factory workers – and instead could finally go to school.
• For more visit https://www.bathintime.co.uk/; Mike Chapman’s The High Street, Twerton – an historical survey; and A Dark Past by Joe Schofield remains in print and is available online or from all good book shops in Bath: and this group are brilliant: https://historyofbath.org/

For more on Bath visit http://www.harrymottram.co.uk/bath-voice/bath-news/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarryMottram5

More news of Bath’s chic community in Bath Voice magazine – now out – or read online at https://issuu.com/bathvoice

Axbridge Pageant 2022 News: video promo of the August community play in the Somerset town released

Chris Jarman who is the Narrator in the Pageant

A 15 second video has been shot to promote the Axbridge Pageant in Somerset that takes place this August.

The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9zgx_wqXNo

Tickets now available online at https://axbridgepageant.com and at Axbridge Post Office.

AXBRIDGE PAGEANT 2022: SATURDAY-MONDAY, 27-29 AUGUST, 2022

The Axbridge Pageant is a community event that has been performed regularly since 1967 when a celebration of the town’s history was first held in the town square. Since then it has been held in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. Due to the Covid Crisis it was postponed from 2020 to this summer.

The Axbridge Pageant is set to take place at 3pm daily over the Bank Holiday Weekend, Saturday-Monday, August 27-29. 2022.

Tickets are now on sale. To buy tickets visit: https://axbridgepageant.com/tickets The pageant is entirely funded through community fundraising events throughout the year, ticket sales, programme sales and sponsorship. If you would like to sponsor a scene and/or take an advertisement in the programme visit https://axbridgepageant.com/Sponsor_Axbridge_Pageant

You can also donate to the pageant — especially popular for those who cannot make it to the event this year — via Just Giving. To donate to the pageant at Just Giving visit https://tinyurl.com/2p8dk7j9 If you are interested in being part of the town’s most exciting and creative event either in the cast or behind the scenes, please contact the producer and production manager John Kendall on 01934 732103 or 07770 998731.

For more news, features and photos on the pageant visit http://axbridgepageant.com/

The Axbridge Pageant’s lead sponsor is Enable of Axbridge, promotional and marketing. For details visit https://www.enablepm.com/