Monmouthshire council training toy row rumbles on
2:01pm Sunday 6th October 2013 in News
MONMOUTHSHIRE council’s deputy leader criticised a counterpart for his comments over a £1,250 training toy after the latter left a meeting.
Comments made by cabinet member for modernisation Bob Greenland, about Armand Watts, were called “inappropriate” by a fellow councillor.
We reported in August that the council splashed out on the wacky training toy, called as The Apodo, which was branded a “complete waste of money” by Cllr Watts.
Each colourful pod on the toy instructs participants to do an activity like touching their toes or untangling a rope. Others in the set of 120 tasks include using blindfolds, brain training and relaxation. They are meant to encourage competencies like teamwork, business awareness and creativity.
The Apodo has been with the council some time, but Cllr Greenland and Cllr Armand Watts received their first demonstration of it at Innovation House, Magor this summer.
Speaking at the time, Cllr Watts said he was perplexed by the affair: “The council is under huge financial pressure and this is a complete waste of money.”.”
At last week’s meeting of the full council, Cllr Greenland took the opportunity to respond to Cllr Watts’ criticism when asked about the progress of the innovation unit, despite Cllr Watts having left the meeting.
He said Cllr Watts “formed his own opinion” about the toy. During the Innovation Centre visit: “Officers came up and explained that it was a training aid and has many purposes and exercises to get officers on courses to act as teams in team-building exercises.
“That was all that was said. The next thing I knew was there had been an article in the press. In many ways, I should not be surprised. Our cub reporter goes to the paper and puts his own view on it.”
Cllr Graham Down called for a point of order and said: “Is the purpose to hold an opposition member to account?”
Cllr Roger Harris said: “The member is not here and has no means of defending himself. This is entirely inappropriate.”
Cllr Greenland said he was in no doubt the device was good value for money: “We are quite used to Cllr Watts’ swipes and normally I would not take any notice because the stuff he comes out with is irrelevant.”
When contacted by the Free Press, Cllr Watts said: “It is hugely annoying to the public when they find out the council is wasting money on a crazy scheme. I do not think doing heads, shoulders, knees and toes improves the quality of work of staff and is insulting to them.”
“We are bracing ourselves for cuts and should be focusing on the day job of protecting social services and getting education out of special measures.”
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