Not since the English Civil War has the West Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds seen such posturing from two opposing forces.

On one side, in his office in Dettingen House, sits the comeback broker king, Bob Beckett. Directly across the road, in the old Country Mutual Insurance Brokers (CIMB) stronghold, is the broker heir apparent, Peter Cullum.

Backchat has been fed various tales from both camps on the localised dispute, now gripping this sleepy area of East Anglia.

Much trading of gestures has ensued across the tarmac divide and it reached new heights last week.

Beckett decided to promote the launch of his new venture, Insurance Risk Solutions, by talking to some friendly local press.

A full page article was published under the headline "Top team reunites to create independent insurance services", accompanied by a picture of Beckett and his team outside the offices.

One source said of the picture: "Now it's a long time since my maths O-level, but there seems almost double the number of 'commercial insurance staff' mentioned in the caption."

His decision to rekindle the ancien régime of the Beckett Group with some old pals from CIMB is, the article says, a chance to return to "traditional values".

Handbags indeed. Backchat, in the spirit of impartiality, can only hope that the best man wins.