Tidy Towns Report: Town Plan suggested for Borris-in-Ossory

Tidy Towns Report: Town Plan suggested for Borris-in-Ossory
News Reporter news@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report

Borris-in-Ossory: Mark: 285. Mark awarded 2015 281

Community Involvement & Planning:

Borris-in-ossory is very welcome to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for the completed entry form and for your town map, and the use of annotated notes to point out places to be visited by this year’s adjudicator, was much appreciated. The success you have in getting the local schools and Youth Club to support your work is great to see, and long may you continue to have this local support. Keeping links with your volunteers and the younger generation will be key to your ongoing success and the larger your available workforce the easier it will be to complete tasks. Also look to create links with as many National agencies as can help you, for example An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland or the Heritage Council. To help you progress in the competition we would encourage you to develop a town plan based on a 3-5 year framework. A plan can give you a clear picture of what your committee is trying to achieve year by year, how you are going to approach each project and who the supporting agencies will be. Set out where you want to start, what you want to achieve, and the work required to be done each year. A plan will help focus the group on its long-term goals and not build up false expectations of quick success.

After a while, when results do appear, the plan will serve as a reminder as to how far Borris-in-Ossery has come since starting 16 years ago in the competition. It can also help identify projects to addressed for each category in the competition and so gain marks overall. This need not be professionally prepared but can be a simple list of your aims and objectives and a clear timeline for projects over the period of the plan. Consider working on this over the next year as this will help focus your activities and also gain you additional marks in this category. We would advise you to consult with the Tidy Towns handbook which contains a wealth of useful advice. Has your committee gained members this year? 21 active members allow you spread your workload more efficiently, so well done to you all.

Built Environment and Streetscape:

Your village has a lovely mix of new and old and in spite of having a long linear pattern has a real sense of place and community. Concentrate your efforts on the upkeep of property boundaries. Good luck in your plans to address the derelict sites in the town in conjunction with Laois County Council. Could temporary planters , move the tubs from mountain road perhaps, be placed at the old petrol station in the short term to improve its frontage?Both the new school and Church grounds at the western end of the town create a very attractive community zone and hedges and grounds here were well maintained. In fact the church with its distinctive tower was being painted a lighter cream colour on the day of the visit. Sheerans Pub with its simple traditional frontage was admired and its quirky bike window display. St Canices Hall was well presented with its bright red door and thanks to the guides for providing a splash of colour with the window boxes here. It was good to see Kellys occupying the historic premises on the main street and it was very well presented. We note the planting at the courthouse, could the boarded up windows here be given a coat of black paint to improve its facade in the short term.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

The grounds of the church and its hedges and the planting to the school boundaries were beautifully maintained and we wish to congratulate you for the works required to achieve this standard to upkeep. Remove tree ties from trees planted here once they have established to prevent rubbing and damaging the trunk. To progress in this category consider looking for spots in the village to plant trees. Developing a programme of tree planting will ensure a long term landscape structure for the town. Try to plan your tree planting strategy so that each year, as funds become available, you can build on the previous year’s planting. Try to confine a single species to roadsides to create an avenue effect, which as it matures, will create an enhanced setting for the village and its approaches. Take part in national tree week to create a focus for your tree planting activities. Your focus on native species with 900

whitethorn having been planted last year is great to see. As the climbers grow they will soften the impact of the long stretch of road. Thanks must go to your Youth club for the planting that has been done to the courthouse and were they also responsible for the nicely painted white courthouse railing?

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:

We hope to see progress at the Roscrea roundabout for next year’s visit. In filling out the Tidy Town entry form important information that was only mentioned in your cover letter should be written in the appropriate competition category so it is not missed by the adjudicator. To progress in this category we would suggest that you gain support to carry out a survey of habitats in the area. A simple plan can be used to indicate areas such as the surrounding stone walls, riverside, tree groups, hedgerows, garden areas, meadows etc. This would help you identify key sites of interest and formulate plans to help improve biodiversity by intervention or management practices. In many cases the do nothing scenario is best and you can make sure that sensitive landscape are protected. Have you considered arranging a biodiversity walk a night time bat walk or dawn chorus event? These are low impact activities that can do much to inform and bring the community together. Or perhaps you or the youth club could consider taking part in Birdwatch Irelands Countryside bird survey? Anyone with a reasonable working knowledge of Ireland’s common and widespread birds can take part. Look to their website for more information. These types of activities can gain you more marks in this category. We hope the children are enjoying assessing how successful the nesting boxes by their school have been.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:

We noted the water butts at the cabin in the church car park and are glad to hear it is being used to water town flower displays. As you are aware this category is about the prevention of waste being generated in the first instance. Other ways to address this category is to promote participation in Earth Hour or Bike to school week.

Follow on from the success of the St Joseph’s composter by encouraging residents to install compost bins in their own gardens. Have you considered running a sustainable workshop for residents? Laois County Council can help you with this, contact the environment officer for advice and to help you gain marks in this category.

Tidiness and Litter Control:

There was little litter evident in the town and you mention that you take part in litter pick ups daily. Good luck with your efforts at maintaining your high standards. Facades in the town were well maintained and painted but ensure gable walls are not overlooked. The upper storeys of some of the empty premises also needed attention but we acknowledge that this is a difficult area for your committee to address. We wondered had you considered doing a litter bin audit to see how often bins are used and if they are placed correctly. For example the bin on the island by the junction with Mountain View Road and Church Street may not be required and tends to clutter up the area. Can it be removed if not used? The design, placement and location of litter bins influences littering behaviour. The style of the litterbin chosen should reflect the character of the area and the size reflect the amount of litter in the area

Residential Streets & Housing Areas:

The verdant garden of the period house at St Canices terrace was admired as was the white washed wall opposite, an important boundary at a junction in the town. Open spaces are beginning to mature nicely in the town’s estate and all tree ties here should be removed before they cause damage to the young trees. This is a simple task that all residents could carry out this year, remove all tree ties to trees over 2 years old by next year’s adjudication. There are some really lovely window boxes and hanging baskets on Main Street and they were very much admired. The name stone at Glenall has evidence of chemical spraying at its base. If weeds are an issue here consider planting weed supressing perennials’ in the patch here to avoid chemical sprays. We thank you for the work done in maintaining the open spaces in your unfinished estates.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:

Talk to Bus Eireann to get the shabby bus stop by St Canices Hall and by the pub opposite upgraded and would there be space for a bench by the planter here for waiting passengers? And perhaps move the bin beside the community hall to the bus stop where it may get more use? The mix of tubs, trees and posts on the approach from Mountain View tended to clutter the verge here, and in time, as the trees mature the tubs and posts could perhaps be removed. The roadside boundary hedge is maturing nicely here. Colour was provided on the town by numerous window boxes but you must relocate any hanging baskets attached to live ESB poles. They represent a significant hazard as any unauthorised contact or near contact with the electricity networks can result in serious injury or even death. This was noted at St Canices Terrace.

Concluding Remarks:

Borris-in -ossory is a lovely town with an interesting mix of buildings, in an attractive rural setting. The efforts of your 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.

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.