IF there's one thing we can all learn from the Swans' continuing success in the Premier League, it's the value of teamwork. Wilfried Bony might be the club's top scorer and Jonjo Shelvey might have won Match of the Day's Goal of the Month and should surely also win Goal of the Season.
However, I think they'd both concede that without the team around them — the players, the management, the fans – the Swans' European run and the battle against relegation would not have been part of their personal success stories.
It's been almost exactly two years — it was May 3, 2012 — since the local government elections and a lot has changed at Swansea Council in that time.
I am the leader of the council, but I also know that without a great team around me the success that's been achieved so far would not have been possible.
For a start there's been tangible changes in the way our communities are supported, particularly those in the east of the city. One of the major initiatives is the creation of target areas — roughly the areas covered by Townhill, Penderry and parts of the Castle Ward — bringing together all branches of government and other agencies and people of these areas to tackle poverty and the causes of poverty.
This has seen investment of millions of pounds in initiatives like Flying Start, housing improvements, schools, support for vulnerable children and reducing crime. Swansea Council isn't doing this on its own; without the support of residents, council staff, teachers, partner organisations like the police, the ABMU health board and the Welsh Government, the work that's going on there wouldn't be possible.
There have been other achievements in the last two years as well. Swansea is now, in Dylan Thomas's centenary year, recognised as Wales's Capital of Culture. This year we've also seen the return of the much-loved and high-profile BBC Proms in the Park to Singleton Park in September. And, I think, it says much for Swansea Council's commitment to nurturing culture in our city that we continue to invest in our city's library services when many other local authorities have reduced funding.
On the sporting front, Swansea's success is not measured by the Swans alone. This summer the IPC European Athletics championships are coming to the city — we're the first city in the UK to host what is one of the biggest paralympic events in Europe since London 2012. Swansea is also hosting a major half-marathon event in July as well as the Dart 18 European Catamaran Championships 2014.
Some of these cultural and sporting events — I've name-checked but a few – are not organised by Swansea Council and I think that's great. They show our city's growing sporting and cultural excellence is being driven by local people as much as it's being supported by the council.
And that is what teamwork is. It's not about the council doing all the work on its own; it's about listening, promoting a can-do culture and then supporting residents to get on and sort things out their way. When people have a stake in the services they receive or create, have a can-do approach to improving the life of their communities that attitudes and culture begins to change. Cultural change takes time, but when it changes, it lasts.
Swansea Council has achieved a lot in the last two years and there is still much more to do. Teamwork and a can-do attitude will help us continue to improve.
SPEAKING of teamwork, my colleagues and I put a team up for the 16th Annual Lord Mayor's Boules Championship. This has raised getting on for £60,000 over the years for various charities.
It's a great event, bringing together people from across the city, of all ages and backgrounds to raise money — but predominantly to make fools of themselves and have enormous fun.
The game is taken extremely seriously, however — you will play by the rules and the ref's decision is final! We secured our worst result, getting knocked out in the first round, just when we had reached form! Ah well, there's next year!