The owner of a new bar has been left stunned after failing to find workers in one of the country's worst unemployment blackspots.
Linda Barker was looking for about six staff to help run Rocky's in Hartlepool town centre.
But she found that, despite the town's 2,500 unemployed, there was only one person willing to do the job.
Rocky's bar and restaurant was due to open in Church Street last weekend.
Linda was initially surprised when she put an advert in the job centre and only nine people responded. But then one candidate called to cancel, saying he had found another job, and another called to rearrange the interview. Of the others, six failed to turn up, leaving Linda with just one interviewee.
She said: "We're only looking for about six people to do general part-time bar work such as serving customers and organising the bar, paid at the minimum wage, and I thought there would be loads of people in Hartlepool just busting for jobs."
Hartlepool has an unemployment rate of about 7%, twice the national average. The minimum wage for people aged 18-21 is £3.50 and for those aged 22 and over it is £4.10.
Sue Alderson, business manager at Hartlepool JobCentre, said: "We do have a system for employer customer service and we have contacted the employer direct to resolve the situation.
"A lot depends on the labour market at the time but the service industry is a growth industry and normally we find that there is plenty of interest in that type of work."
Linda hopes to find staff for the new bar through further consultation with the JobCentre and an advert in the local newspaper.
by Nigel Green