MPs hopping mad after quango blows £125K on games day for staff

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SCOTTISH Enterprise staff spent £125,000 on bonding sessions which involved Sumo wrestler suits, space hoppers and hobby horses.

Workers at the jobs quango also played with water pistols and remote-controlled cars at the tax payer-funded sessions.

The most bizarre activity of all involved a “swimming relay” using skateboards and a baguette.

Despite deepening gloom in the Scottish economy, up to 1,000 Scottish Enterprise staff spent Wednesday at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, where they also enjoyed a “networking lunch” followed by a barbecue.

Critics of the bonding session demanded to know how playing with space hoppers will create jobs and boost economic growth.

Scottish Enterprise say the games sessions put the bounce back into their staff but MPs remain to be convinced. Pic: Solitude

 

A recent report by Lloyds TSB Scotland found that more than one third of firms had suffered falling revenue.

Private sector growth in Scotland slipped “well below” the performance of the rest of the UK, according to the same study.

Despite that, Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop appears to have given the Scottish Enterprise away day her blessing by attending and addressing staff.

Her colleague, John Swinney, is understood to have spent the same day in the Netherlands, in an unsuccessful bid to save 1,700 jobs at the Hall’s meat processing plant in Broxburn, West Lothian.

A leaked itinerary of the day shows staff enjoyed 13 activities, including “swimming” by lying on a skateboard and moving with their hands and feet.

The organisers even put on a “swimming relay” using the same method, with participants using a “long French loaf” as the baton.

“Three-a-side football” involved using tricycles and a beach ball, while a large sock and a ball of tin foil made were used in the “hammer throwing” event.

A “boat race” were organised using a large cardboard box andin the Sumo wrestling competition, the winner was the person who could pin down his or her opponent for five seconds.

The “pentathlon”, meanwhile, was described as: “Up the room dash on the tricycle, followed by down the room lying on a skateboard, up the room dash on the hobby horse, followed by a down the room dash on  space hopper, completing with a 5-shot shoot at Irn-Bru cans.”

Graeme Morrice, a Labour MP, said: “Scottish Enterprise shoud be doing everything to help businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth.

“I don’t see how playing with space hoppers meets these objectives. Alex Salmond has to get a grip of this quango.”

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrate leader, said: “Team building is important but this seems an excessive cost, especially at a time when money is short.

“The Scottish Government needs to explain how this could be considered the best use of taxpayers’ money.”

The event also involved staff from Scottish Development International, the oversees wing of Scottish Enterprise.

A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “Scotland reaps huge benefits from the strength and quality of our overseas staff who sell our country across the globe.”

He added: “Many of them are foreign nationals and we bring them to Scotland every two years for a programme of meetings and training to continue to deliver in the best way possible.”

The spokesman said of the Olympic-style events: “We held a fun social event as a way to bring different cultures together. It was staged out of office hours, staff were given the choice to attend and almost all of the equipment was borrowed from staff members.

“It cost £200, which works out at less than £1 per head.”

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