Tidy Towns Report: Wealth of habitats with potential surrounding Spink

Tidy Towns Report: Wealth of habitats with potential surrounding Spink
News Reporter news@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report: Spink

Mark:254. Mark Awarded 2015: 252

Community Involvement & Planning:

The adjudicator would like to welcome Spink to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your entry form and the hand drawn map was a great help to the adjudicator on the day of our visit. You have a strong committee of 10 members in place. You are liaising well with your local businesses and are communicating with the community via the church and your facebook page. To gain marks in this section a village plan should be prepared for a 3-5 year duration. This need not be professionally prepared but can be a simple list of your aims and objectives and a clear timeline. Consider working on this over the next year as this will help focus your activities and also gain you additional marks in this category. Consult the Tidy Towns handbook for more advice. We are glad to hear that as a scattered community you feel participation in the Tidy Towns gives your community a focus and in your 20 years of participation you have done much to protect and enhance your rural heritage.

Built Environment and Streetscape:

This was the adjudicator’s first visit to your spread out village. Once again Headens bar was very well maintained with hanging baskets to add a dash of colour and the quirky red pail planters by the well maintained and painted outhouse. Knock national school was also nicely painted with lovely window boxes. The low boundary wall looked a little tired as seen beside the smart school façade and may be due for a clean-up. We note that there was roofing works done at Glanbia but the frontage here was looking untidy on adjudication day with brown vegetation from spraying and weeds to the beds. This is a long frontage to look after but perhaps a dedicated work party could be organised to blitz the planted bed here. Perhaps apply a bark mulch to supress weeks and plant any gaps with spreading nectar rich perennials such as cranesbill or ladies mantle? If the tall gate posts were painted white it would do much to improve its appearance. The community field was visited and is a great amenity for your spread out population. The church is a lovely set piece seen against the backdrop of the mature tree line and hedgerow.

While the building itself was lovely perhaps the green and gold gates could be painted as part of future works.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

The picnic area is a lovely spot with beautiful views over the rolling countryside. The adjudicator was a bit misdirected in finding the spot as a rusting sign on the opposite side of the road seemed to lead to another location.

A simple picnic sign should be provided at the road junction beside the picnic area so more passer-by’s can discover the spot. The horse chestnut is a lovely specimen tree here and perhaps should take centre stage. The aging conifers could be removed as they are browning and are a bit out of place in the rural natural setting. The broken brick planters could also be removed as the lovely views are the focus of the area not internal planters.

Could a native hedge be planted to the post and wire fence field boundary? This would also gain you marks in the Habitat category.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:

Your wildlife triangle is a pleasant spot but as we are sure you are aware you have a wealth of habitats surrounding your rural location which have so much potential. The purpose of this category is to help villages promote and understand why their habitats are important and helping local residents value them. As part of this category you could encourage local school children or residents to take part in some nationally organised online surveys which would particularly be relevant to your rural setting including Bird Watch Ireland’s online surveys, the annual National Bat count or the Irish Wildlife trust ladybird survey at http://www.iwt.ie/what-we-do/ladybird-survey. Keeping track of all these sightings from year to year will let you see how your village habitats respond to any planned initiatives. Do consider doing a simple wildlife survey of the village to help you progress in this category. The Heritage Officer of Laois County Council should be able to give you guidance.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:

Congratulations on Knock schools successful participation in the Green Schools scheme. This gives your community a head start in addressing waste and sustainably issues in a practical focussed manner as lesson learnt in school can be brought back to children homes. Can you give us examples of how the participation in the scheme has changed behaviour in the village? Building on the success of the green schools programme is the green homes initiative which is also run by an Taisce. Try to encourage villagers and parents of school children to take part in this programme by logging on to their website.

Tidiness and Litter Control:

The old cottage opposite Headens looks poor now in comparison with the well-kept pub and outbuilding. Would it be possible to approach the owner here to get the window boards painted black to improve its appearance in the short term? There was evidence of chemical spraying in the village opposite Headens and at the picnic area. Alternatives methods can be considered to reduce the effects pesticides have on the environment. Alternatives include manual removal by hoeing or strimming, applying hot water or in some cases mulching areas to prevent weed growth. Light posts and poles near the school had old faded circus flyers taped to them which were tattered and looked untidy and should be removed. The bins at the picnic area were clean and emptied. Some windblown litter was seen in the cattle grill at the church and should be removed. the recycling centre at the school was neat but the wall behind could be repainted along with the school boundary.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas:

The spread out residential properties in the village were presented to a good standard so well done to all your residents. The grey painted traditional home at the school junction with its walled boundary was very well presented.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:

The roadside verges were well maintained with your attractive black and white Spink village signs admired. Perhaps a short area of grass to the front of the signs could be kept trimmed to give them an appropriate setting. We wondered if the open area of grass to the entrance to the Spink Community field could be planted with some trees.

Or perhaps a more varied mowing regime could be applied to enrich the grassland habitat. Consult your area engineer to ensure they do not impact on sightlines at this junction in the road.

Concluding Remarks:

Spink has a lovely rural charm and it was a pleasure to visit your community. All involved with this year’s entry are warmly thanked and congratulated for their efforts and we look forward to seeing your progress in 2017.