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From purgatory to paradise

Warm welcome

Jessica Morden and I had a wonderful morning with the statisticians at the Newport Office for National Statistics.

Praise was heaped on Newport from dozens of statisticians who have been relocated here. Although few of then have settled in Newport itself, they all love our wide open spaces, mountains, beaches, schools, low council taxes and prices.

It was a greatly encouraging visit and a stout denial of all the negative nonsense printed from hostile sources in London. Very few of the ONS staff in London actually hail from London originally. A surprise was that many, having escaped unavoidable long commuting journeys to Central London have chosen to live in areas a long way from Newport. 'Ah' one explained' in London commuting was a misery. Here it's a pleasant ride through lovely countryside.'

Others spoke of the purgatory of London living. We asked them about the downside here. What could be done to improve the welcome of new key workers? the only gripe was the bus service from ONS to the centre of Newport. Public Transport is one of the few areas where London is brilliant.

Working conditions are calm and spacious.

The informality of office life continues to astonish. One senior staff member we interview had holes in the elbows of his shirt. I ask him whether this was a fashion statement or evidence of low pay. He said it was best shirt.

It was a pleasure to open the ONS new assessment centre. It was a full ceremony with brief speeches, a cake and a ribbon to cut. One hilarious note is that the Argus covered the event. They sent a reporter and a photographer. Inadvertently they failed to mention either Jessica or me. We were pretty central to the event, cutting the ribbon and the  cake. Incompetence or malice?... probably, as usual, both.