Tidy Towns Competition 2016
Adjudication Report: Stradbally
Mark:296. Mark Awarded 2015: 293
Community Involvement & Planning:
The adjudicator would like to welcome Stradbally to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your entry form and thanks also for clearly defining which projects were being presented for assessment as part of this years’ work which you clearly noted on your map via colour coding. This made the adjudicators’ job much easier during the visit. We are delighted to hear that you have a small but enthusiastic core Tidy Towns committee of 5 members and enjoy close contact with your two schools. Have you considered building on this relationship by having a honorary spot on your committee for a school representative of student? Other committees have done this and have harnessed the energy and enthusiasm of your community’s younger members The Committees work with the Local Authority and numerous local agencies is to be commended. Furthermore you are engaging with local business, people at the heart of the community who can help make a difference. You have not included a village plan with this year’s submission. This is a tool which can help you gain a clear picture of what you want to achieve, how you are going to approach each project and identify possible supporting agencies. To gain marks in this section a plan should be prepared for 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.
Built Environment and Streetscape:
This was the adjudicator’s first visit to the village and the line of stone cottages create a lovely scene on the approach to the village core from the south. The market House restoration is such a great project and has ensured this historic structure will be appreciated for years to come. The church and lovely stone boundary wall was again very well maintained and the vibrant planting to the raised stone planter adjoin it creates a lovely focal point at the junction of Main Street and Church Road. Noted during our stroll through the village was Feigherys butchers with their well-presented tubs and the beautiful restoration of the old stone mill. The Art House is a great use of an old building.
Landscaping and Open Spaces:
The tubs and foral display in the village really give a boost to the village streets. Have you considered the use of shrubs or herbaceous perennials in some of your displays rather than a dependence on resource hungry annuals?
As you can see already in the village at the roses and lavenders planted at the commemorative stone at the lovely Market Square, 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. Have you invested in spring bulbs? If so include an image for next year’s submission. If funding is difficult perhaps an alternative way of getting the work done is to have a “garden party” where all residents are encouraged to bring and donate some bulbs for the village (chosen from an agreed plant list), or perhaps set up a Stradbally Gardening Group? The quirky pony and trap planter by The Grandstand shop was admired. Your play area was lovely to visit and as you say it is one of the most popular play areas in Laois. The steam theme made it particularly site specific.
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:
The Lake area is a great resource for you. What a resource for your schoolchildren to have on their doorstep. We look forward to the development of projects for this section of the competition and, given your surrounding habitats, feel there is great potential for gains for you in this category in the future. Expert advice and information on wildlife conservation and management is available, often at no cost, from a number of agencies and voluntary groups including Birdwatch Ireland.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:
Well done to your schools successful participation in the Green Schools Scheme run by An Taisce. Does the village take part in earth hour or bike to school week? These are nationally supported events that you can join in with locally and will earn you marks in this category. Or for example could the school children be encouraged to avoid using cling film of tin foil for their school lunches and use refillable containers instead? The bring bank and the issue of their final location we hope has been resolved.
Tidiness and Litter Control:
Once again you presented a very tidy village and well done to all involved in the works this year. Like many villages around the county, empty premises are an issue for you. An empty building on Main Street at the junction with Church Road is particularly noticeable. Can you talk to the owner about painting the window boards black which would help improve its appearance in the short term? On adjudication day we found very little litter in the village or along the roadside so well done at maintaining the standards here. Your weekly litter nights seem to be an effective way for your group to address this issue. The worst spot experienced was by the somewhat broken picnic tables by the lake where an amount of recent litter was seen. Is this spot covered by any of your group? Some roadside litter was noted but is discussed elsewhere.
Residential Streets & Housing Areas:
As ever the residential properties in the village were presented to a high standard so well done to all your residents.
The entrance to Brockly Park was very well presented with its arch of red roses. It is such a shame that the line of birches to the open space at the residential area at Church Avenue, opposite the stone yard, have been pruned so severely due to the overhead wires. Would it be possible to plant another line of trees to the inside of the space away for the wires so that their crowns can be allowed to develop naturally? Maybe a smaller species such as an ornamental cherry would have less conflict with the wires. The floral tower at Woodview is a quirky feature. Could wall climbers be planted to the bare walls at The Glebe?
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:
Generally signage throughout the town was clean and easy to read. Verges on approach looked well although perhaps a metre or two in front of the black and while Stradbally Failte sign could be mown to give it a maintained setting. The approach along the Cork road is nice with its long length of stone wall and woodland behind. As you are located on a main road the impact of through traffic can be a problem. In particular a number of drinks bottles were seen on the verges between the School and the Green Tyre Shed. Make sure this stretch of roadway is covered by your weekly litter walks.
Stradbally is a charming village with such an impressive range of building types which tell the story of the villages’
links to the past. Well done to all involved in this year’s application and thank you for your hard work and commitment. We wish you all the best for 2017.