Monday, 14 June 2021

‘Somerset Working Class’ : A Clevedonian publishes a three-volume autobiography

Dave Chapple is a former North Somerset school cleaner, firefighter and postman; a life-long cyclist, Black Music DJ, historian, trades unionist and socialist. Dave, who was born in Clevedon in 1951, and lived on a local council estate till he was 35, has now, in his seventieth year, written and published a three-volume autobiography. The three separate volumes are focussed on different aspects of his younger life in Clevedon, and are collectively entitled: “Somerset Working-class.”

All three volumes are of A4 size, profusely illustrated in B&W and colour, thoroughly documented, and beautifully designed by former print trades unionist, now South West TUC Secretary, Nigel Costley. All three books have been published with the generous financial support of the Communication Workers’ Union, which Dave has been a member of for forty-two years.

Somerset working-class autobiographies, especially rebellious ones, are as rare as hens’ teeth, and Dave hopes that his stories can encourage other Somerset working-class women and men, especially trades unionists, footballers, DJs and cyclists, to put pen to paper!

Each individual volume costs £5, plus £2 postage and packing. The three volume set costs £15, plus £5 postage and packing. Direct bank payments welcome: e-mail for details. Please make any cheques out to “D. T. Chapple” and send to 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU. Please send all book reviews and any other enquiries to Dave direct on    Phone 07707869144

Continue reading...

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Dave Chapple's Tribute to Howard Andrews

Bridgwater Trades Union Council secretary Dave Chapple has just published a new book as part of the Somerset Socialist Library series and it's available for just £5 plus £2 postage and packing. 

Dave says "It is a biography of, and my tribute to, a remarkable Taunton man, Howard Andrews, who I met when he was 98, and remained close friends with until he died aged 101 in 2008.

"Andy" had a troubled upbringing in Kilburn, joined the army, trained as a medic, saw military service in British India and Shanghai, and, back in Kilburn by 1931, became both unemployed and  an active communist who helped to keep the streets of London free of Mosleyite fascists. 

Andy was a medical volunteer for 19 months in the Spanish Civil War, survived Dunkirk, and eventually found his way to Taunton in Somerset, where he was a pharmacist's assistant at Musgrove Park Hospital and won a national merit award from his union-COHSE-for his active recruitment.

Oh yes, and at the age of 100, Andy stole the show at the Glastonbury Festival Left-field!

The book is my tribute to a remarkable, if remarkably modest, man, and also a record of an unusual friendship."

The book is entitled "Soldier Saving Lives: Keith Howard Andrews" and is,  A4-size, 56 pages, 21,000 words, beautifully designed by the South West TUC;s Nigel Costley, and profusely illustrated in both archive black and white, and contemporary full colour.

How to get a copy

The book costs £5, plus £2 postage and packing, and can be ordered from:

Dave Chapple, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater Somerset, TA6 5AU

1. Please make cheques out to "D T Chapple."

2. Please make BACS/fast/direct bank payments to my account:
Nationwide  Bridgwater Branch: Sort Code 07 08 06   Account number 08257628

Dave has four more lockdown books in the publishing pipeline, thanks to the editorial and design support of Nigel Costley, and the generosity of his trade union, the CWU. Please look out for flyers for these in the coming couple of months. These books are listed in the Somerset Socialist Library section at the end of this book.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Solidarity with workers at Oscar Mayer, Chard


Oscar Mayer ‘Ready meals’ plant in Chard

Labour Party members and Trades Unionists across South Somerset have come out in support of workers at the threatened Oscar Mayer ready-meals plant in Chard. A statement from the Unions warned that the closure should concern everyone in Chard, in South Somerset and in the wider area. Yeovil & District Trade Union Council held an online discussion on the subject on 5 November, attended by Rowena Hayward of the GMB union, which has members employed at the site, and a staff representative. 

All delegates expressed their concern, noting that the closure, if it goes ahead, would be very damaging to the local economy due to the loss of purchasing power by people becoming unemployed and by the loss of business by companies supplying the plant with a wide variety of goods and services. The statement continued “We were especially concerned at the fears of foreign workers with non-settled status who may fear for their future. The loss of 860 jobs in a small town like Chard, with a population of about 12,000, would be devastating. Some workers travel considerable distances to get to work, so once again the effects would be widespread.  This is also another nail in the coffin for manufacturing in the UK and comes as very sad news.”

Yeovil Trades Council Press Officer  Ken Keable said “Although there has been a reduction in demand due to the pandemic, it seems that the key issue is the alleged unsuitability of the site for the refurbishment of the plant. Is there no other suitable land in the locality? Can’t the District Council or County Council assist in this?  The GMB are liaising with Somerset County Council and local councillors and MPs to see whether there is anything that can be done to change the outcome.”

Terry Ledlie -“Time to rethink this decision”

The statement continued “We believe that this should not just be a business decision, to be taken by the German-owned private equity group that bought the company in 2017. The human cost and the social impact on the community must also be considered. It does feel as though a decision has already been made to close the factory.  Hence it is a matter for local politicians too, and perhaps national government. The workers have done nothing to deserve this treatment. We express our solidarity with the workers at Oscar Mayer and their families and stand ready to help them in any way we can. “

Labour Solidarity

Chairman of Yeovil Labour Party, Terry Ledlie commented “I would like to send a message of Solidarity to GMB union and the 860 strong workforce at  Oscar Mayer ready-meals plant in Chard. Yeovil Labour party support  GMB union officials to  go about their work in safeguarding Jobs and negotiating a way forward for the vulnerable employees and hopefully overturn this decision. It’s time to rethink this decision that if it goes ahead  will damage the local economy and bring hardship to 860 families within Chard.

We hope that any redundancies will be voluntary and that the employer can offer alternative employment or work with local employers within the Chard area should all other options fail to ensure that the employees are looked after due to this business decision.”

Tuesday, 8 September 2020


Vegan and Eco Market, 

Saturday 12th September

Seed the Day 2020 Poster
The Seed the Day event
has  moved this year to
Bridgwater High Street,
Town Hall and Engine
Room,  to allow for more
 space between stalls and
 people attending.
 Seed the Day will operate
 this year solely as a street
 market due to
COVID restrictions
 and the High Street will
 be closed

Thursday, 20 August 2020

South West Shopworkers Speak Out About Violence


Retail workers trade union leader Paddy Lillis has launched a parliamentary petition calling for legislation to protect shop workers from violence, threats and abuse. In support of the petition South West shopworkers have been speaking out about their own experiences.

The petition is lodged on the parliamentary website and calls on the Government to legislate to protect shop workers. It can be signed at:

USDAW’s latest survey found that while incidents of violence, threats and abuse were already rising they doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic.”. These are some of the comments South

West shop workers shared experiences when responding to Usdaw’s survey:

Bristol: “Purposely hit with a trolley.” - “Held at knifepoint and stalked.” – “I was punched by a customer.” - “I've had people throwing coins and products at me whilst serving at the till, as he wasn't happy with our products.”

Cornwall: “Swearing and aggressive behaviour by a drunken man one Friday evening.” -

“Customers threaten me and I’ve been pushed out of the way whilst trying to fill up shelves, daily I get called names.”

Devon: “Much more abusive and unreasonable recently. Had people square up to me and just be awful.” - “When it gets busy customers get short tempered. Had a customer aim their car at me.”

Gloucestershire: “Verbal abuse and sworn at using worst words ever. Had gum/sweets thrown at me.” - “I get verbal abuse most days for following the rules of my job.” - “Threatened to be beaten up by customer when I checked bank note.” Somerset: “Got punched by a young lad as I spotted him eating around the store and stole food.” - “Verbal abuse and threats received when refusing sales of alcohol and energy drinks.” - “Inappropriate sexual comments about myself.”

Wiltshire: “Customers getting annoyed with us cleaning chip and pin and counters between uses.” - “Smacked around face with skateboard, called fat and ugly.” - “Customers have been extremely rude, arrogant and aggressive towards staff.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is heart-breaking to hear these testimonies of shopworkers, who deserve far more respect than they receive. Abuse should never be a part of the job and we are appalled that violence, threats and abuse have doubled during this national emergency.

“The safety of our members is absolutely paramount, but they tell us that some of the shopping public are resisting safety measures in stores and can become abusive when asked to queue, maintain social distancing or reminded to wear a face mask. Our message to the public is that there is no excuse for abusing shopworkers, please treat our members with the respect they deserve.

 “In light of the unacceptable increase in abuse of shopworkers, there needs to be urgent action to help protect staff and we urge the Government not to dismiss our petition, but listen to the voices of shopworkers and legislate for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Government U-Turn on Exams

Commenting on the decision, Hannah Packham, South West Regional Secretary of the National Education Union, said:  


"Gavin Williamson has, finally, done the right thing. The pity is that he has done so having exhausted all other options. Students and their teachers have endured days of completely unnecessary stress and worry. For many students, this announcement will generate further uncertainty if they have been rejected from their first-choice course, and university, on the basis of the inaccurate and unjust Ofqual awarding process. 


"Young people have suffered enough. They have few chances in the jobs market as the country faces rising unemployment and recession. Gavin Williamson should now announce that the cap on university places is lifted, so that more young people, who have worked so hard for their A Levels, can continue their studies and fulfil their potential. 


"One of many lessons for Government to learn from this sorry saga is to listen to the profession. The Department for Education's determination to put all eggs in one basket through a single set of summer exams has come back to haunt them. It is very much a disaster of their own making.  


"This is a shameful episode. It must never happen again. The u-turn in Scotland includes a long-term review of the assessment methods used to award qualifications, including the possibility of more coursework and systematic, moderated teacher assessment, and it is critical that the same occurs in England.   


"We not only need a careful and systematic review, but an absolute assurance to next year's GCSE and A-Level students that this cannot and will not happen again." 



Please contact Hannah Packham, South West NEU Regional Secretary at or on 07904011693.





  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 
  • The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Stop and Fix Universal Credit

Bridgwater Town centre
Campaigners got a sympathetic response from Bridgwater shoppers on Saturday 2nd December, when they asked for Universal Credit to be cancelled!

Said Somerset Unite Community Chair Glenn Cane: “Everyone seems to know someone whose life has been blighted by Universal Credit. That’s why we’re saying that Christmas will be cancelled for thousands of families claiming the new benefit.

Serious problems

Universal Credit replaces six of the most commonly-claimed benefits, including Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Job Seekers Allowance. It takes at least six weeks for a claim to be paid, so a family claiming Universal Credit today would have no money before Christmas.
 Despite knowing Universal Credit causes serious problems, Theresa May's government is pressing ahead and rolling it out to thousands of people across the UK.

and across the country
Claimants are descending into debt, relying on food banks, getting into rent arrears and in some cases getting evicted from their homes because of in-built problems with Universal Credit. Many disabled people are finding themselves up to £80 a week worse off with Universal credit.


The recent Budget promised a reduction of waiting time from 6 weeks to 4, but this won’t come into operation until after the New Year and doesn’t take into account the delays in payment which have made many claimants wait anything up to 12 weeks before receiving their payment.

Unite the union is calling on the government to STOP and FIX Universal Credit, and end this misery for thousands of claimants.

Further information: 01278 450562/