A huge industry has been built up around one small word - "stress" - which is often taken to mean all sorts of things. Recently, though, even those who have owned up to making a good living out of this broad perception of stress have admitted that perhaps it is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Stress, they now allow, is not necessarily the same thing as working long hours, failing to get on with a husband or wife, flunking professional examinations or gearing up for a driving test. These are individual hurdles to be overcome, issues which should be confronted and tackled in their own right rather than being lumped together under the generic title of "stress" - a short word apparently capable of being stretched to cover any malady these days.

Bradford Council seems to have walked into the web spun by the stress-busting industry in an attempt to tackle perceived problems among its staff. Its decision to appoint a stress officer with the official title of "employee counselling co-ordinator", at a salary of £25,000, could well cause momentary stress of the angry sort among Council taxpayers currently facing yet another inflation-busting increase.

It needs to ask itself what makes Bradford so special, if authorities such as Leeds and Birmingham with twice the level of population and many more employees can manage without stress officers.

It will be interesting to see if its decision to clamber on board the anxiety-and-counselling bandwagon leads to a boom in the number of cases of stress being reported in the next couple of years.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.