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Monday, October 11, 2004


The Western Mail reports that National Assembly officials have found a new way to relieve the stress induced by working for a cutting-edge legislature - whacking each other with branches at a spa in the Brecon Beacons. This is a cue for the Assembly's best rent-a-quote politicians to have their say.

Tory Monmouth AM, David Davies, wades in by demonstrating how liberal he really is: "If senior Welsh Assembly officials wish to spend their time running around in the buff beating each other with twigs, then that's a matter for them. But I think it's a hobby they should pursue outside of working hours. I'm not quite sure why the Assembly has paid for this."

However, Plaid Cymru's Deputy Leader Rhodri Glyn Thomas (who is not averse to removing his clothes for a good cause himself), takes things a little too seriously: "It's a strange thing for the Assembly to pay for. There's only one way it could be justified - if the officials concerned could be made to stop thinking of themselves as affiliated to Whitehall, and start thinking of themselves as part of a genuinely Welsh civil service."

Any employer who has to bear the cost of long term sick leave will fully understand the reasons why civil servants are being sent on this course. Stress is a big factor in sick absences and it is good practise to assist staff who are suffering from it. It can also save public money in the long run. There are though, less eccentric ways of achieving this aim.

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