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Jobs quango defends £125,000 team-building event

A BIZARRE team-building session for staff involving games with space hoppers and water pistols, "swimming" on skateboards, and sumo-wrestling in fat-suits has been defended by Scottish Enterprise.

The country's jobs quango paid £125,000 for the event including the games last Wednesday.

It catered for up to 1000 employees at Scottish Enterprise and its overseas wing, Scottish Development International. Twenty-four hours later, international staff had a stand-alone event.

Staged at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, participants heard an address by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop.

Staff then attended an outdoor barbecue and an event involving "Olympic-style" challenges.

Opposition politicians attacked the sessions. Labour MP Graeme Morrice said: "Scottish Enterprise should 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."

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

But Scottish Enterprise said the event was worthwhile. A spokesman said: "Scotland reaps huge benefits from the strength and quality of our overseas staff who sell our country across the globe.

"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."

He added: "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."

A leaked agenda for the event reveals one of activity offered was "swimming", with staff lying on a skateboard and propelling themselves with hands and feet.

A three-a-side football session used tricycles and a beach ball; hammer-throwing used a large sock and a ball of tin foil. Other events involved "running" with space hoppers, and shooting cans with water rifles.

The sumo-wrestling winner had to pin down an opponent for five seconds.

A "pentathlon" was also offered: "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 a space hopper, completing with a five-shot shoot at Irn-Bru cans."

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