Tidy Towns Competition 2016
Mark:250. Mark Awarded 2015: 239
Community Involvement & Planning:
The adjudicator would like to welcome Camross Village to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your comprehensively completed digital entry form although for next year perhaps the text could be more concise or presented as bullet points for ease of reading on site. The simple but concise annotated map was a great help to the adjudicator on the day of the visit. Your overall approach to the competition is good and your emphasis on social inclusion is admired with your open invitation to any newcomers to the area. Your small village with its core of community buildings makes it easier for you to promote your work because as you say any projects in this area are visible to a wide section of the community and encourages questions. This is a great boom for you and we hope allows you gain support for your work. You have a very proactive approach to addressing issues that affect you and your fellow residents and this structure seems to be working very well for you, judging by the works on the ground and the projects you have managed to bring to fruition through grant and local authority aid over the last number of years. Keep up the good work. Thanks to the ICA, scouts and all the groups that support you and we note you are very proactive in gaining support from the Laois County Council and have a good relationship with the staff and pupils of your school. Finally we acknowledge the generous thanks and recognition you give in your submission to the Community Employment Scheme workers who aid you in achieving the high level of maintenance as seen on adjudication day.
Built Environment and Streetscape:
This was the adjudicator’s first visit to your lovely village and we were impressed at the standard of care given to the buildings present. We wondered at the statement in your submission that you have no historical buildings until we realised that in fact the thatched Poets Cottage is only a recently construction structure in the village. And the fact that it such a focal point for community life, only makes it more impressive. The old stone Church is a lovely building and was well maintained along with its graveyard. The old forged gates in the village opposite the graveyard were particularly admired. They are a great example of the rural blacksmiths craft and should be maintained in accordance with best conservation practice. Ask you Laois heritage officer’s advice. These gates are a disappearing part of our farming and rural cultural heritage. The contemporary Catholic Church is a nice contrast to the older COI building. The bright signs at Kuddz Kidz was appropriate although try to remove traffic cones as they clutter up the village street. If there is a traffic problem maybe talk to you area engineer as to how to address any issues rather than relying on temporary traffic cones. The Camross Inn was a very busy spot on adjudication day. Your National school was looking very well with some nice trees maturing in the well-tended grounds and the school children’s handprints to the wall by the loos was a lovely and nicely executed art work. The black and yellow pump could do with a new coat of paint perhaps. The wall plaques area lovely idea and the stone finish is appropriate for your rural setting.
Landscaping and Open Spaces:
The new trees to the boundary of the churchyard were admired. We are glad to see that you are proactively looking to advance additional tree planting opportunities in the village and approach roads as they will be a lasting testament to your investment into the landscape of Camross. The pink roses to the boundary of the church car park were in bloom on adjudication day and added a splash of colour on a wet and dull Irish summer’s day. planters and the hanging baskets at the Camross Inn bring seasonal colour to the core of the village. The use of herbaceous perennials is to be encouraged in all future planters to the village as they provide a more interesting and subtle colour to an area and should require less maintenance and your poly tunnel allows you progress this strategy.
Thinking this way is a more sustainable approach to landscaping. The grounds of the school were looking well and the trees nicely maturing here. The GAA bench is a nice roadside feature. Good luck with your plans for your community allotment
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:
You have a wealth of habits surrounding you which have so much potential from riverside to hedgerows. The purpose of this category is to help towns and villages promote and understand why their habitats are important and helping local residents value them. The works you are doing to consult with your local wildlife enthusiast and get practical advice to improve the habitats in your areas are commended. A year round food supply, uninterrupted corridors between habitats, and suitable hibernation and nest sites are critical to our wild lifes survival and you seem to have projects addressing many of these lifestages. We hope your school children enjoy learning about our bats and birds. We noted the bird boxes in the core of the village. Some frontages in the village and approaches showed signs of spraying with chemicals to supress weeds. Try to encourage residents not to use chemical weed killers and hand weed or strim where possible especially given your stream side location and the potential of harmful run off.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:
The work you have done to the recycling point is noted and we hope to see the hedge installed for next year’s visit.
Well done on the funding obtained for your rain water harvesting and composting system. You are very proactive in this category both at community and individual levels and all your efforts as listed in the submission have earned you extra marks in this category . The propagation allows you develop appropriate perennial and native plants to then introduce into the landscape. We loved the tool library initiative. Other simple ways to address this category is to encourage your community’s participation in for example earth day or cycle week, nationally promoted programmes that you could take part in. These can be simple and effective ways to get the message across to the wider community. We note your Tidy Towns submission was made digitally and as all relevant information was included this is a good practical way to show your commitment to this category.
Tidiness and Litter Control:
The standard here was good with very little litter evident in the village core area so well done to all involved in the regular litter picks. The bins by the stone GAA building and by the container at the rear of poets cottage were full to overflowing and maybe need to be emptied more regularly. A special mention must go to the John Paul II award student who was a great help with your villages An Taisce Spring Clean and Graveyard Spring Clean. Many other centres have also looked to local transition year students for additional help with projects such as setting up for example a Facebook page or in you case perhaps contributing to your Parish page. The raised planter to the front of the Camross Inn could have the old sign pole removed if no longer used to reduce clutter here.
Residential Streets & Housing Areas:
The residential properties in the village were presented to a high standard so well done to all your residents. Trees are nicely maturing in Ard Erin. Encourage residents to plant up front gardens in the village as gardens areas are a really important wildlife resource and an important source of food and nectar and can be an important habitat in the village. The stone home opposite the Church is a lovely feature period property in the village with its well-maintained out buildings.
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:
Well done on the appropriate maintenance of the verges on the approaches to the village. The picture in your submission of the spring bulbs were nice to see. We note that you are in regular contact with the local authority to discuss issues relating to roadside signage and keep up this dialogue. We note on site the kerbing applied to the approach to the bridge. While this tided up the area we thought for such a small length of kerbing it is a pity that concrete kerbs were used rather than natural stone kerbs which would have been more appropriate to the bridge setting. Try to ensure if any future road works are being done in the village, that local materials are used where possible rather than generic urban style paving or kerbing.
Camross is a lovely village 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 understand that participating fully in the competition, addressing all categories; can be a challenge however as you say it has really helped in Camross to instil a tangible sense of local pride.