Abbeyleix has never looked so good as it did this summer but the Laois Heritage Town has not intention of resting on its laurels.
That was one of the conclusion to emerge from a recent Q&A session evening of Information & Celebration hosted by Abbeyleix Tidy Towns.
Well over 50 people were in attendance to show support for the wonderful work that Abbeyleix Tidy Towns and Abbeyleix Bog have been doing on behalf of the Laois town.
The Entente Florale during the summer contest made it a very busy year for everyone in the town boosting its reputation as a place to visit Europe. The Tidy Towns group won another Gold Medal in the National Tidy Towns competition while a visit by President Michael D Higgins to Abbeyleix Bog was another big highlight.
A number of key messages emerged from the frank and honest discussion.
• The town has never looked so well as it did in the summer of 2017 and the buy in from everyone in both business and residential areas has been humbling for those close to TidyTowns Ireland and Entente Florale Europe competitions.
• It was agreed that Abbeyleix is now in the top tier of the National competition and has to fight hard for every point it gains and to do this Abbeyleix Tidy Town needs more volunteers. Not just for Tuesday night clean ups, but for litter picks, one off projects, simple to do list and area adoptions schemes – Everyone is welcome to get involved (young + old).
• It was agreed that more engagement with the youth, schools and business sector was needed for the final push.(Friends of Scoil Mhuire, Abbeyleix South National School Abbeyleix Further Education & Training Centre)
• It was suggested that everyone that owns a property in town should be aware of the Architectural Conservation Area Status assigned to the town. A copy of the ACA can be found in the libray or by clicking the following link: http://www.laois.ie/wp-conte…/…/APPENDIX-2-ACA-2017-2023.pdf
• To make people aware that there is support grants for works carried out to buildings and shopfronts in conservation areas available from Laois County Council. For example information on shopfront grants can be found here: http://www.laois.ie/?s=shopfront+grant
• The committee acknowledged without the continued support of the Local CE scheme, Abbeyleix Bog, Local Businesses, Public Bodies, Local residents, volunteers, Local professionals and Photographers, Local Media Outlets, Laois County Council and Laois Partnership they would not be pushing so hard for the top award.
• It was suggested that everyone with an interest or business in the town should read the 2017 adjudication report to reflect on items that need to be addressed in the year ahead. A copy of the report can be found by clicking on the following link. http://www.tidytowns.ie/reports/
Prior to Q&A session. The committee outlined an extensive programme of initiatives for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 which included:-
1. Launch Sustainable Energy Communities kindly supported by @Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Laois Partnership
2. Launch Green Dog Walker Programme kindly supported Laois County Council and Abbeyleix Tidy Towns
3. Waste Reduction Initiative to encourage local food outlets to reduce packaging. Attendants were advised that not all packing is biodegradable or compostable. Currently there are 16 food related outlets in the town and the committee is engaging with any business who wishes to investigate the use of non-biodegradable with compostable tea/coffee cups in the food outlets. It is hoped that these business will incentivise their customers to switch to Travel (Keep) Cups by offering a discount on all hot drinks. Check out www.down2earthmaterials.ie for more details.
4. To follow in the footsteps of Portarlington, Ballacolla and Clonaslee and introduce no fly posting or advertising boards within the town limits. It is hope to support this measure with the location and erection of communal notice boards on the approach roads into the town with the support of Laois County Council.
5. To carry out an Age friendly and an Accessibility Audit on the town. Currently there are 12 wheelchair/mobility aided users in the town not including numerous buggy users.
6. Create heightened awareness of the Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) status of the town so property owners are aware that any material change to their properties (including signage, windows, rainwater goods etc.) requires consent from Laois County Council
7. Promote the use of the Irish Language in our town.
8. In partnership with Laois County Council, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, look to rationalise the signage on the Portlaoise Rd, Heritage House and Thornberry Junction.
If you were unable to attend the information session and have a suggestion or comment to add the Tidy Towns and Abbeyleix Bog always welcome new ideas. The AGM also takes place in January 2018. This is another opportunity to get involved.
The committee would really welcome your input.