Monmouthshire council buys £1,250 toy to train staff
MONMOUTHSHIRE council splashed out up to £1,250 on a wacky training toy.
The Apodo device has been branded a "complete waste of money" by one councillor, as Monmouthshire council is under considerable financial strain.
Each colourful pod on the toy instructs participants to do an activity like touching their head, shoulders, knees and toes and untangling a skipping rope.
Others in the set of 120 tasks include using blindfolds, brain training and relaxation.
They are meant to encourage eight core competencies like teamwork, business awareness and creativity.
Only last month, council leader Peter Fox said officers must work to ‘at least’ double savings in 2014/15 to survive.
The Apodo has been with the council some time, but cabinet member for modernistation Cllr Bob Greenland and Cllr Armand Watts have just received their first demonstration of it at Innovation House, Magor.
Cllr Watts said he was left "completely perplexed" by the whole affair.
He said: "I went home and onto the website, only to discover this piece of plastic that looks no different to something you might find in the Early Learning Centre has cost taxpayers a considerable amount of money.
"I'm all for fresh thinking and new ideas but it seems the local authority seem to be a magnet for any wacky practice on the market. The council is under huge financial pressure and this is a complete waste of money. It's my belief if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves."
The director of the company which makes the toy moved to defend the device.
Alan Burton from Dunfermline based Tree of Knowledge said companies like Santander and British Gas are fans of the toolkit.
He said: "If you think about an away day training, they can be a few hundred pounds per head. Buy purchasing one Apodo it can be used day after day, year after year so councils can cut their training budget. It makes staff more productive, having less days off sick and it's about having fun within your work.
"It looks like it does so when it's not being used it's causing discussion. The first thing you think when you see Apodo is 'what is that?' It's an award winning training resource."
The company has sold around 2,000 Apodos, a couple of hundred of the adult version and the rest have gone to mainly schools.
Monmouthshire council said the aid was purchased by training manager John McConnachie as a tool for training, coaching and employee development.
A spokeswoman said: " Investment in training is a priority for the council, especially in view of the skill-sets now required to efficiently operate and enable delivery of 21st century public services. As a large modern and diverse organisation, our training programmes reflect the practice and techniques run in organisations of comparable size, scale and ambition. We value our employees and invest time and effort in developing the skills and qualities that help make them great public servants."
Monmouthshire council did not respond to our request for councillors or officers to demontstrate how to use the Apodo.