Related video: Grant Shapps releases bizarre promotional video for 'Great British Rail Sale'

Department for Transport/YouTube

Look, with Partygate and embarrassing promotional videos from ministers, you’d be forgiven for thinking the UK government has become a bit of a circus.

And news of the Department for Transport (DfT) splashing more than £2,000 of taxpayers’ cash on an away day involving juggling certainly doesn’t help with that impression.

The £2,074 session – revealed by the i on Monday - took place last December with a gathering of 38 DfT staff members.

Run by the teambuilding company Zing Events, the 20-minute “group juggling” activity involves the group being “taught how to juggle as one team, passing the juggling ball onto the next person while receiving a juggling ball from your other side”.

Another session – part of the £18,000 total spent on the series of away days – concerned a “mini Mexican railway”, where individuals in pairs had to “construct a contraption that can carry a ball from one end of the room to the other”.

Commenting on the discovery, Louise Haigh MP, the shadow transport secretary, said: “Instead of wasting taxpayers’ cash on absurd days out, the Transport Secretary could try doing his job and tackle the soaring cost of travel facing millions.

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“It’s always the public who pick up the tab for Tory waste. Labour would treat every pound of taxpayer money with the respect it deserves.”

Not to mention the ongoing cost of living crisis…

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Tuesday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I don’t think it is [necessary for DfT employees to learn how to juggle]. I can assure you, Nick, it won’t be happening again.

“I wasn’t happy to see the story in the papers and frankly, I understand … the need to get people together – particularly when they haven’t met up for a long time – and build teams but I don’t approve of that sort of thing.

“I can tell you – I won’t repeat my conversations – it won’t happen again.”

Yet the timing of the report meant members of the public weren’t too happy with how their cash was being spent, with many making the same joke.

One Twitter user commented: “He ‘wasn’t happy to see the story in the papers’ – he should have known about it before but there we are. Only unhappy it’s been revealed.”

“They are Tories, so learning to juggle with truth is a reasonable activity,” quipped another.

A third wrote a similar reply: “The Tories are clowns, so I guess it’s important for them to learn how to juggle!”

A DfT spokesperson had defended the spending on Monday and said: “We value our staff, and that of our various agencies, and training days help develop new skills and build high-performing teams.”

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