Jobless find work on offer at local pub

UNEMPLOYED people in a small Cotswold town now have a new excuse for going down to one of their local pubs - they can honestly claim to be job-hunting.

A noticeboard advertising job vacancies went up in the foyer of the Red Lion at Northleach in Gloucestershire yesterday as part of a pioneering scheme to aid the hunt for work in rural areas.

The initiative has been taken by the Cotswold Countryside Employment Programme (CCEP). There is no JobCentre within 10 miles of the town. Unemployment in the area is about 2,500, and Len Smith, the CCEP project manager, fears it will worsen with a decline in agriculture and the closure of the American air force base at Upper Heyford.

Among the first to survey the 20 vacancies was Ivor Jones, 44, an unemployed builder who has lived in Northleach all his life. A job as a temporary stonemason looked promising - but it entailed a 10-mile bicycle ride to Stow-on-the-Wold.

Mr Jones, who has spent many hours on his bike job-hunting, said: 'I think the board is a good idea. There are a lot of unemployed young people in Northleach who have to take a bus to sign on at Cheltenham. That's 13 miles away.'

Clerical jobs, vacancies as shop assistants and several catering opportunities were on offer yesterday. 'We intend changing the jobs two or three times a week,' said Mr Smith, who hopes to expand the scheme to other pubs and post offices if it is a success.

But there was little to inspire Barry Necchi-Ghiri, 26, a father of two, who has been unemployed for four years. 'Jobs are all skilled, and I'm unskilled,' he said.