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Scrutiny councillors up for major award

Councillors pioneering a new way to investigate the most important issues facing the council today are in with a chance of landing themselves a local government 'Oscar' next month.

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Scrutiny councillors spend their time looking into issues as wide ranging as gypsy travellers, homelessness and council finances.

And they've been pioneering a new 'agile' approach by forming flexible working groups to do their work rather than investigating via committees which allows councillors to spend more time getting to grips with the most important issues and to respond quickly to topical issues.

It's this approach to their work which has seen Swansea Council shortlisted for an MJ Award, otherwise known as the local government Oscars, in the category of 'Excellence in Governance and Scrutiny' in London next month.

Mary Jones, Chair of the Scrutiny Programme Committee said: "I am delighted that we have been shortlisted for this national award. It reflects the hard work that scrutiny councillors have been willing to put in to improve services and make a difference to their communities. This shortlisting also reflects the engagement of councillors across parties and their support for the system - it is a real team effort."

Cllr Jones said the main aim of scrutiny is to act as a 'critical friend' to the Cabinet and other decision makers in order to promote better services, policies and decisions. Working in a similar way to parliamentary select committees, scrutiny involves councillors who are not in the Cabinet.

Recently scrutiny has looked at issues such as school performance, horses tethered on council land, tree preservation orders and the future of the music service. A new scrutiny inquiry looking at the Council's Tackling Poverty Strategy is just about to start.

The MJ award winners will be announced in London on 16 June.

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