Tidy Towns Competition 2016
Adjudication Report: Clonaslee
Mark: 314. Mark awarded 2015: 309
Community Involvement & Planning:
The adjudicator welcomes Clonaslee to the 2016 Tidy Towns competition and thank you for your submission. You have an active committee of 10 adults and 6 teenagers which is a great mix to bring fresh ideas and demonstrates the importance of social inclusion to your group. We are glad to hear that participating in the competition has helped build links in the community and helps develop a sense of pride in your locality. Your annotated map was a thing of beauty and it was a pleasure to use it to navigate the town. Your three schools seem to be very proactive in the community so we wish to thank all the students and staff for their commitment to improving their town through their voluntary works along with the parents associations. A town plan was not included with the submission so it was difficult for the adjudicator to assess how successful you have been in achieving your aims. A simple task list outlining past, present and future projects planned either as part of a formal town plan or as a 3-5 year list of tasks would be a help both to the adjudicator and to your committee to better see how successful they are at addressing issues in the town, in this your 43rd year of participating.
Built Environment and Streetscape:
Your main street was neatly presented and as the street trees mature they will only add to its setting. Gable ends are particularly prominent and we are glad to say that all were as well presented as your facades. A number of premises especially stood out on adjudication day. John Feerys bar with its smartly presented façade and tasteful window boxes was admired to the credit of its owners. The nicely painted façade of the Health Centre was neat. It was good to see the use of Irish on shop fronts. Your complex of community buildings and tir na spraoi play area to the hill by Colaiste Cluain na sli was also visited. This is a great resource for the town. The 1916 memorial and name tags to trees was nice to see and as the planting here matures it will only improve. Some gaps in the hedge between the internal road and car park could be filled as they look to be struggling. As in many other centres you have some empty premises in the town and we appreciate the difficulties you may have in addressing this problem.
The old vocational school on such a prominent raised site on the way into town and we hope it can find a new lease of life, in the meantime ensure window boards are intact to prevent further damage.
Landscaping and Open Spaces:
The bog oak sculpture at the raised stone planter at Capparogan was nicely placed and you spiral planters a new shape for this judge! Very unusual. The simple red and white planting with very neatly trimmed hedge set off the red and gold railing to the church heritage centre very well and we wondered if the baskets attached to the old railing detracted somewhat from its architectural setting and might be better placed elsewhere. Remove tree ties from all newly planted trees in the town as those over 2 years old generally do not need to be staked. In fact the longer the ties are in place the greater damage they do as rubbing ties can cause wounds to the bark.. The trees by the bench at the Clodiagh River as an example. We would ask you to be mindful when filling out the application next year as information on your biodiversity plan should really have been included in the Wildlife, habitats and Natural Amenities Category.
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:
The works done to encourage bird feeding and nesting is recognised and make sure to follow up on this work by having feeders supplied with appropriate feed during the winter months and also monitor the successful inhabitation of the bird boxes. Consider taking part in the biodiversity monitoring scheme run by the National Biodiversity Management centre to keep track of how successful your habitat interventions are in the local bird population. This can also be used to monitor bee populations. http://www.biodiversityireland.
ie/record-biodiversity/surveys/butterfly-monitoring-scheme/. We look forward to your group progressing better access to the local constructed wetland through consultation with local nature experts. Your Local Biodiversity Action Plan is such an asset for your group and has lots of ideas for your group to consider and its completion has earnt you marks in this category. You can also enrich the riverside habitats with a more varied mowing regime perhaps leaving some of the riverbank unmown as viewed from the bench opposite Hickeys pub.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:
Congratulations on your communities successful participation in the stop food waste scheme and the healthy cooking course. In time your community orchard can supply fruit for local bakers. Build on this theme by promoting European Waste Reduction Week in November 2016. Community groups throughout Europe such as TidyTowns can register to participate with their specific waste reduction initiative via the website www.ewwr.eu and there is guidance and promotional materials available to participating groups. Local authorities throughout Ireland participate each year in this. The clothing bank by the GAA field at Father Keogh Park was free of windblown litter and perhaps some climbers could be planted to the concrete block wall here.
Tidiness and Litter Control:
You have a proactive approach to this category with a number of activities listed in your submission. Scoil Bride and their pupils were an important part of your successful Clean Up Laois Week and are to be congratulated. We hope this participation becomes an annual event. Generally the town was clean and neat on adjudication day with some small amount of litter seen at the 1916 stone and the pedestrian link at Hillside view. Ensure these areas are covered by your twice daily litter pickers. The old star Christmas light by the finger post at the bridge should be removed once the restive season is over. As you are aware this category is not just about the lack of litter but rather the approaches taken to address the ongoing control of litter and the development of a strategy to deal with problem areas.
Residential Streets & Housing Areas:
How great for your community that Clodiagh way has now been completed and we hope this brings new volunteers for your works. Some climbers to the bare walls here could be planted to soften its appearance as has been done at Hillview. We felt that the town residences along Main Street were very well presented and facades clean and neatly kept. Individual houses throughout the town were well maintained with some very nice planting and gardens on show in many locations including The Green. The conversion of the old boy’s school was very well done.
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:
Unfortunately this category of the competition did not seem to be filled in in your submission. The area to the base of the 50 kph sign on the approach from Mountmellick needs some attention and tidying up. Perhaps it may be an idea to do an audit of road signs. Some sign poles needed to be painted and some signs are not facing the road. If you create a list of issues you can contact your area Engineer to see if they can be addressed as part of the areas roads budget. There was a lovely red theme to the towns planting but the welcome to Clonaslee sign after the Garragh River Bridge was hidden by roses and some light pruning is required here. The timber failte sign from the Kinnitty direction gave a hint to your woodland setting. Signage at the Brittas forest was clean and legible but make sure adjacent vegetation is kept trimmed and away from the signage. There was evidence on adjudication day that a hedge on the L1005 past the community centre had just been cut with fresh cuttings visible on the road. As I am sure you are aware it is illegal to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period from the 1st of March to the end of August. Even when works are being done to roadside hedges please try to ensure that, as best practice, no hedge cutting is done in your community during the nesting season.
As a first time visitor I was impressed with the presentation of your village and the work the committee has carried out. You are living up to your groups’ mission statement of making ‘Clonaslee a nicer and better place to live’. Well done to all involved in this year’s submission and we look forward to seeing your progress in 2017.