21 April 2000

Welsh say on Civil Service

WELSH farmers are to get the chance to say what they feel about the quality of the service they get from agricultural civil servants.

After years of complaining through their unions about slow responses to enquiries and late subsidy payments, 3000 randomly selected producers will be invited to give their personal views to NOP Research Group pollsters.

The National Assembly agriculture departments £75,000 bilingual telephone survey will involve 15 minute calls, and it is being backed by the farming unions, the CLA and Young Farmers Clubs. It is part of Joint Initiatives for Government Services Across Wales (JIGSAW). This £16m project aims to improve the way the assemblys £220m grants and subsidies budget is administered, and to make services more farmer friendly.

Farmers Union of Wales spokesman Alan Morris urged members to think carefully about their responses.

"It would be easy to criticise without suggesting priorities for deliverable service improvements," said Mr Morris.

"This survey is an opportunity for the National Assembly to hear the views of ordinary farmers and it should be used."