The following is an extract from the monthly Barometer press release issued by the University on Wednesday 10th May 2005.

Donkeys get an hour's break for lunch - How about you?

Earlier this month, Blackpool Council decided that the 200 donkeys, that give rides to children on Blackpool beach, are to get a formal one-hour lunch break but, what about workers?

Many advisers on productivity say that there are productivity losses in the afternoon if workers do not take a break at lunchtime and, we are told that the average lunchbreak in the UK has now fallen to 27 minutes. The donkeys are not allowed to work more than seven hours a day and must also have a one-hour break, when they can be fed. In answer to our question on the subject, some Barometer panellists told us that they never take any lunchbreak. 13% of UKBB respondents and 11% of UKBAB respondents fall into this category. At the other end of the scale, 15% of UKBB and 7% of UKBAB respondents always take a break at lunchtime.

Britain's roads 'getting worse' - so say the majority of UKBB and UKBAB respondents. BUT, the Department of Transport beg to differ.

In answer to the question: How is the nature and condition of the UK road infrastructure impacting upon your business? nearly 59 per cent of firms quizzed by the Business Barometer, said they felt that the effect that the state of the nation's road has on their operations is either getting worse or much worse. Less than five per cent of panellists in the UKBB said they believed that things were improving.

UKBAB respondents mirrored these responses. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) said they believed things were getting worse or much worse, while less than six per cent thought things were changing for the better.

Figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) show that traffic increased by 19 per cent between 1990 and 1993. Traffic density and congestion also increased, because total road length increased by only 0.5 per cent.

The Department's 'Road Defects Index ' reported that the actual average condition of roads has been found to have improved between 2000 and 2004, and that road traffic intensity, which measures the ratio of vehicle-miles to Gross Domestic Product, fell by 12 per cent over the same period.

Despite this, the impression given to respondents appeared to be exactly the opposite. Specific comments included the frustration caused by the poor state of repair on some local roads and the hold-ups due to huge, slow-moving articulated lorries. The speed restriction around the Heathrow junction of the M25 was singled out as adding to stress levels and journey time by one respondent.

Full versions of press releases can be found on the 'Presspack' pages of the project's websites, as can 'Survey Presspacks', which include further analysis and panellists' comments. To access them, please use the links below.

For the UKBB click here.

To reach the UKBAB 'Presspack' page, click here.

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