Tidy Towns Report: Real sense of place and community in Clough

Tidy Towns Report: Real sense of place and community in Clough
News Reporter news@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report: Clough

Mark: 277. Mark Awarded 2015: 273

Community Involvement & Planning:

Clough is very welcome to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition for your 9th year of participation. Thank you for the completed entry form and hand drawn map. Your overall approach to the competition is good with a core of dedicated members on your committee of 10. It is great to hear that you have a younger member of the community taking an interest in your work through litter control. Perhaps a junior membership of the committee would be appropriate to consider? Your school plays such an active part of the community and as we see in many categories of the competition, they contribute much to your work. Our thanks to the staff and your principal. You did not include a village plan with the submission this year. A simple 3 or 5 year plan can be a great tool to help you set out and achieve goals for your committee. A simple list can be turned into time bound targets which can then show people in your community how you hope to proceed and can even help you gain sponsorship. The plan is in effect the groups work programme and it should reflect the objectives and capabilities of the group. This will in turn help you gain additional marks in this category.

Built Environment and Streetscape:

Your village has a lovely mix of new and old buildings and in spite of being spread out along your main road retains a real sense of place and community. The limekiln is an unusual feature for you and the information sign was read with interest, could the setting here be improved by some wall shrubs to the white boundary wall here to soften its appearance somewhat. The school looked well but the low boundary wall could perhaps benefit from a new coat of pain? Once again the stone church with it’s adjoining car park was beautifully presented. The setting here will only improve as the purple beech’s mature and frame the view of the lovely steeple. The light posts in the church may need to be painted and as mentioned in last year’s report the base of the statue enclosure may benefit from power washing. The name sign at the Foxrock Inn needs a little attention.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

As mentioned in last year’s report once again thank you for including images of the village in bloom in the spring, as it give us a flavour of your approach to landscaping over the full of the year as opposed to the summer snap shot we received on the day of our visit. Some centres concentrate resources on summer display without considering winter impact bot for locals, visitors and wildlife. For a linear village the concentration of your ornamental planting to a selected number of areas such as by the village sign and the entrance to the church seems to work. Concentrate planter tubs to areas where in ground planting is not possible. Your use of a mix of annual and perennial planting is really working for you in the stone raised beds. The use of fuschia as well as summer flowering perennials at the wall to the rear of the village entrance sign were admired. They provide a more interesting and subtle colour to an area and should require less maintenance. Thinking this way is a more sustainable approach to landscaping. Also perhaps consider planting one or two specimen native trees to the sloped grass at the Limekiln. This could be done as part of your village’s participation in ESB tree week to help draw attention to your works. Concentrate on tree planting in the village to establish a landscape setting for future generations.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:

We noted the bird boxes in the village and are glad to see that they have been a success for you. To promote this topic in the community have you considered getting an expert from Birdwatch Ireland or Bat Ireland to lead a nature walk in the village? These are low impact ways of adding to the knowledge in the community. Do consider doing a simple wildlife survey of the village to help you progress in this category. This can be a simple colour coded map based on your hand drawn plan. On it you can identify trees, hedgerows, garden areas, grassland and any other habitats in the locality. This can then be used as a basis for further interventions and could be done as a joint project with the school. We feel this is a category you could really gain marks in. Try to discourage the community from spraying with herbicides as this creates a burnt appearance as seen at the base of the compost sign and the church car park, which is avoidable with hoeing, strimming or weed picking.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:

Your compost area seems to be a success for you with your prominent ‘what can be composed’ sign read with interest by the adjudicator. Do you know if there are many residents actively composting? How do you deal with the arising from verge cutting? Are they composted? Consider organising or attending a resource management workshop with your local authority. Thank you for including photos of your younger residents planting up their blue planters the results of their work were seen beside the very attractive purple and blue Clough scarecrow. Look at other simple ways you can to address this category. Does the committee or the local residents take part in the Earth Hour? These initiatives can all be included in this category. The bin style water butt was noted by the graveyard and its prominent position may encourage its use spreading to your local homes.

Tidiness and Litter Control:

Once again Clough presented a very tidy appearance. There was very little litter present in the core village area and this is a result of your strict litter picking rota no doubt. It is great to hear that you have the support of the younger generation in addressing this issue. The bin by the school was half full and we wonder are 3 bins required for such as small village? Well done in your communities participation in Clean Up Laois Week 2016. This is a great way to focus attention on this category by joining in with communities county wide for this popular event. The bring bank was well presented.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas:

Individual houses were well maintained with some very attractive garden areas on show. The thatched cottage at the road junction was a delight but the short section of adjoining boundary wall between it and the bike planter looked a little soiled in comparison to the cleanly painted façade here. Try to keep domestic bins stored of the street where possible or remove as soon as practically after they have been collected. Limekiln was beautifully presented but remove tree ties here from established trees before they damage the bark by rubbing and cause wounds. Keep up your high standards in this category.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:

As the village is spread out with your houses, pub and community buildings as well as field boundaries along its length you have a large area to cover in this category. Generally approach roads were well maintained with but ensure overhanging branches are cut back from speed sign for good visibility. The car park within the church grounds was neat and very active as a wedding was underway on the day of adjudication. As the hedge at the timber fence opposite the school matures the planter boxes affixed to it may not be necessary and may tend clutter up this simple road treatment. Perhaps some of the time and resources involved in this display could be used to add a planter to the tarmac area at the bench at the Limekiln?

Concluding Remarks:

Clough is a lovely village with an interesting mix of buildings, in an attractive rural setting. The efforts of the committee and the local community are clearly visible to the visitor. We wish you success in addressing issues facing your continued progression. Thank you to all involved in this year’s submission for their hard work and good luck for 2017.