Tidy Towns Report: Mountmellick praised for getting many groups involved in Tidy Towns

Tidy Towns Report: Mountmellick praised for getting many groups involved in Tidy Towns

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report

Mountmellick Mark: 276 2015 Mark 272

Community Involvement & Planning

The adjudicator welcomes Mountmellick to the 2016 Tidy Towns competition and thank you for your submission. In order to reduce the volume of material in your submission for next year perhaps just comment on works done during the past year and ,while interesting to see the large submission with details of meetings etc. it can make it difficult for the adjudicator on the day to glean the highlights of works done .

Large submission can make it harder for us to identify key projects or works to be considered for additional marks. Also while the Heritage trail map was interesting with the list of projects attached, for next years submission, again to make our job easier, can you mark on the map exactly where the projects you wish to be visited are located in the town.

You have an active committee who must be kept busy with weekly summer meetings with Laois County Council. Well done in harnessing the support of local associations and business in aiding your works. We loved the idea that specific tasks have been allocated to specific groups in the town. For example the panther walking group take responsibility for the street furniture.

Perhaps you can build on this approach and allocate a specific task to the Men’s Shed or Scouts for example removing trees ties on maturing trees or keeping kerb edges weed free on allocated streets perhaps? Your schools are successfully participating in the Green Schools Programme and well done to Mounmellick Community School for their important Amber Flag, which promotes positive mental health in our educational system. We are glad to hear that participating in the competition has helped develop a sense of pride in your locality. We would advise you to do a review of your town plan which ends this year. Now is the time to review which projects have been completed and any issues that have hampered you. This can help focus your efforts in developing your next town plan.

Try to ensure all categories are covered for planned projects for your future town plans to help you gain marks in all areas of the competition. Look to the Tidy Towns Handbook for guidance in developing your next plan.

Built Environment and Streetscape

When filling out your form try to ensure projects listed are in the correct category. Comments on bird boxes and the waste recycling depot do not belong in this category and only make the adjudicator’s job more difficult on the day in trying to decipher where projects are to be considered for marks. A number of premises especially stood out on adjudication day. The historic Mountmellick Civic offices were looking well although staining to the gable wall besides this stately building should be seen to and the wall repainted perhaps. Perhaps this building could be a recipient of your paint donating scheme?

The old shopfronts at Breen, Baker and JJ Philips hark back to earlier times. The Library and Community offices were a nice modern addition to an old building. The simple stone benches to the square were lovely but some of the lanterns had glass missing and needed to be seen to. As in many other centres you have some empty premises in the town and unoccupied properties, which you note in your submission, and we appreciate the difficulties you have in addressing this problem. Could you approach the owners to allow you use the empty windows for community displays?

Perhaps to include works by the local school children or indeed a display promoting your Tidy Towns work. This can enliven the streetscape and help inform the community. In your on-going contact with owners can you suggest that window boards in vacant units or properties which are on the market for a prolonged period of time are painted black? This greatly improves the appearance of the façade when viewed from the street. As mentioned last year the civil defence building would benefit from some attention. Bredas gift shop was well presented but the artificial flowers here were fading.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

The tiered planters around town were looking very nicely maintained and painted eye-catching pastel colours, and filled with a mix of annuals and perennials. Well done on your commitment to use more native and perennial planting because as you know many bedding plants and annuals are not rich in pollen or nectar and provide little support to our insects and pollinators. Our tendency to tidy up the landscape rather than allowing wildflowers to grow along roadsides and in parks and gardens is hindering the development of a range of nesting areas and flower rich habitats across our landscape to support our insect life. The emphasis your open spaces have placed on commemorating 1916 is to be applauded.

The poet’s rebellion for 1916 in the town square was a very nice interpretation of the theme. A min planter to the green pump on Irishtown was admired. The playground was very well maintained but the hard surface area beside the bridge opposite needs longer term treatment to improve its appearance. The water pump at the garage was nicely painted in red and black.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities

Given your town’s riverside location and abundance of natural amenities on your doorstep this is a category where you can really excel. The excellent biodiversity plan done in 2014 is a great asset for the town.

We see that a number of projects have been carried out and ticked off in the original plan supplied, but a number still remain for you to carry out. The bat boxes by the river were noted and we are glad that they have been a success. The Wildlife sign by the river was very informative. Would you consider planting a wildlife hedge along the post and mesh fence between the play area and the river? Changing grass mowing is another action in your biodiversity plan? Perhaps talk to the HSE to see if this could be applied to their grounds? As the wildlife area at the 1916 / Derrycloney area is progressed introduce a varied mowing regime. Some evidence of spraying was seen at the base of the 7 trees here.

As per your Towns Biodiversity plan action try to use natural methods of pest and weed control. Graige Cemetery was very neatly maintained and is another spot in the town which can be managed for biodiversity with small interventions.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management

We wish you luck with your Community Employment scheme water butt.

Have many residents taken up the offer of water butts supplied by the men’s shed? How many business or school have installed water butts? While you say that weekend littering is an issue for you have you considered progressing a strategy to get traders in the town to switch to recyclable and biodegradable packaging where possible. This can especially be targeted at the outlets which cater for your late night crowd who can produce a large amount of food packaging waste where biodegradable options are increasingly available. The bring centre at Supervalu was neat on the day and remove tree ties from recently planted trees here. Look to other ways to address this category? Do you use low energy light for seasonal Christmas displays for example? All contributions to your groups commitment to this category and should be noted and listed in next year’s submission. We would also encourage you to visit http://localprevention.ie/tidy-towns/ . The Local Prevention website have added a specific 'Tidy Towns' page to allow you see what waste prevention projects have been done by other similar groups around the country. There are various case studies to learn from with practical tips, advice, free downloads of brochures etc. this is a great resource to gain advice on how to develop new initiatives in this category.

Tidiness and Litter Control

There was very little litter noted in the town centre on adjudication day so well done in upholding your standards in this category. For a town the size of Mountmellick you have been successful in presenting a very tidy impression to the visitor. You do not say if you take part in the clean Up Laois Week? Consider the placement of bins in the town.

While bins in the main square were emptied they would benefit from a paint of power wash. We note you particularly target Saturday and Sunday mornings, often a messy time in larger towns with litter from the previous evening often very evident. Perhaps talk to some of the town’s takeaway food outlets to see if food packaging can be reduced if this is an issue for you? Some signage in the town needs attention and a signage audit can be a good idea to see which signs need cleaning, removal or replacing. For example the sli na slainte signs by the HSE complex on the Irishtown road needs cleaning. Good luck with progressing your anti dog litter campaign. The sign at the Mountmellick development Associated also needs to be freshen up. Some recent litter was noted by the bench at the tree of hope in the playground.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas

Well done to all the resident associations on the hard work they carry out over the year and we wish them every success in your Tidy Towns estates competition.For next year’s submission include the location of the winner on your town map so it can be especially visited by the adjudicator. Also consider a category for window boxes for the town’s residents who do not have the luxury of a front garden as lovely window boxes and hanging baskets were seen in the town centre streets. There was a lovely splash of colour to the name stone at Grove Park. The cul de sac sign at St Joseph’s Terrance needed cleaning. A lovely rose bed was seen at Manor Court. Could more trees be planted to the open spaces at Manor Grove? You seem to have successfully harnessed the support of residents of housing estates.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes

Your emphasis on the significance of the first impression to visitors was seen in the attention given to the upkeep of entrances to the town with verges well maintained and signage good. On the approach from Rock a dead tree should be removed by the 80kph sign. Ask the area engineer to remove a duplicate 50kph speed sign. Look to plant perennials to the base of town signs were possible. Look to reduce street clutter and superfluous signage, a blight in many Irish towns. The street name sign at O’Connor Square was faded and needed replacing to match the quality of your blue heritage signs. The surface of the car park at the MDA looks untidy and the space could benefit from additional tree planting. Remove suckers from the base of the mature lime trees here. Well done for focussing your CE work on providing safe routes through the town for pedestrians.

Concluding Remarks:

As a first time visitor I was impressed with the presentation of your town and the work the committee has carried out. We thank all of the numerous stakeholders involved in the works which make up this year’s submission and continued good luck for all your planned work in 2017 and beyond.