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Yes Prime Minister a happy ending, I’ve turned new chapter from ‘long-term jobless’ to ‘best seller’

March 23, 2015
BOOK ENDS: New beginning for Scott Southey and Amy Carter

BOOK ENDS: New beginning for Scott Southey and Amy Carter

THE story of out-of-work chef Scott Southey has gone from “lights out” to essential bedtime reading for Prime Minister David Cameron.

When the Conservative leader first stepped over the threshold of 10 Downing Street back in 2010, book enthusiast Scott was living the nightmare scenario of hardback hopelessness.

He was trapped in the opening pages of a four-year drama – in the ranks of Britain’s long-term unemployed.

But avid reader Scott, along with partner Amy, was determined he wouldn’t be stuck forever in a chapter marked ‘jobless’.

In 2013 they decided to launch Southcart Books – selling online, as their home became a giant library.

The couple’s love of literature is clearly in the blood.

Scott – who has traced his family history – has discovered a royal link in his genealogy with great-great-great grandfather, Robert Southey, being  Queen Victoria’s poet laureate.

Amy’s mother – Josephine Carter – was an author and poet who had three poetry books published, along with short stories published in various compilations.

Deciding to branch out further, Scott took a two-day course through the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and the couple took the plunge to open Walsall’s first independent book shop for many years.

With the help of a £3,000 government start-up loan they moved into a grade II listed building in Walsall’s town centre last May. Their Lower Hall Lane business is now selling new, used and antique books as well as holding community events such as book signings and readings.

Both had no previous experience of owning a business – Amy had spent almost 18 years caring for her son, Connor, who has ADHD. And worse, the 37-year-old had survived a “near-death experience” of a burst appendix in January 2014.

“Since we’ve opened, people have been saying that this is what the town needs and that we haven’t had an independent book shop in years,” said Scott, 40.

“People have had enough of the big chains. It seems to be what the general public wants.”

0 photo 4Since meeting Scott and Amy in their cosy town centre shop, I’ve been hugely impressed by what they’ve achieved.

They are a truly inspirational couple who are now the proud owners of the only independent bookshop in the Black Country.

It shows you what determination – and government help – can do. Scott was long-term unemployed but through a grant he set up the book shop.

Their story mirrors the success of the government’s economic policies which has seen the town’s jobless total drop dramatically since 2010 – with the total claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance fall by half in that time.

The West Midlands has 131,000 more people in work than five years ago and nationally a record 30.9 million people in work – with 1.9 million more people in work since the last election.

0 z logoThe bookshop has just taken delivery of some old royalist and political books . . . and I’ve purchased one for David Cameron and another for Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

The two books will be en route to Westminster this week.

The PM’s bedtime reading will be The Conservative Leadership 1832-1932, first published by author Donald Southgate in 1974.

The period covered by the book takes in the general election of 1832 – the first after The Great Reform Act became law, which extended suffrage to the whole of the upper middle class and abolished the rotten boroughs.

Moving on a century, 1932 is the year Oswald Mosley founded the British Union of Fascists.

My choice for Philip Hammond is British Foreign Policy, 1660-1672, first published in 1968 by Sir Keith Feiling.

It takes an in-depth look at a fascinating time in history when Charles II has just been restored to the throne after the 11-year period when Britain managed without a monarch.

During Charles’s first 12 years as king  . . . Dunkirk was sold to his first cousin King Louis XIV of France; we fought a Dutch war over possessions in Africa and America; and became involved with the British East India company and Hudson Bay trading company.

Exciting times but nothing to compare with Scott and Amy’s ‘best seller’  . . .

JUST THE JOB: FACTLINE

  • Voters in Walsall South face a clear choice on May 7.
  • Either we stick with the Conservatives’ plan which is delivering jobs, so more people have the self-respect and peace of mind that comes with a regular pay packet or we put all that at risk with an Ed Miliband government propped up by the SNP – bringing economic chaos with the same old policies for more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes that got us into a mess before.
  • The stats speak for themselves. In Walsall South 1,227 fewer people are relying on Jobseeker’s Allowance, down a third on a year ago.
  • Even more crucially, jobless figures in the constituency have dropped by HALF since the Conservatives came to power nationally in 2010.
  • New figures show 2,149 fewer people in Walsall South claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance – a  49 per cent fall.
  • People are getting off benefits and into work across the region with 131,000 more people in work since the last election. The West Midlands now boasts 2.6 million in the ranks of the EMPLOYED.
  • The number of people claiming the main out-of-work benefits NATIONALLY is at its lowest since 1982. There are 735,000 job vacancies, the highest number on record with full-time jobs accounting for 78 per cent of the rise in employment over the past year.
  • Some 2.3 million more people are employed in the private sector than in 2010 – the increase in private sector employment is over FIVE times the fall in public sector jobs.
  • Overall there are now a record 30.9 million people in work, with 1.9 million more people in work since the last election. This has been driven by businesses creating jobs.
  • Unemployment Uk-wide is 5.7 per cent (down 0.3 points this quarter and falling 2.3 per cent since the election when it was EIGHT per cent ).
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