Tidy Towns Report: Emphasis on strong landscape structure in Mountrath commended

Tidy Towns Report: Emphasis on strong landscape structure in Mountrath commended
News Reporter news:leintserexpress.ie @laoisnews

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report: Mountrath

Mark:272. Mark awarded 2015: 268

Community Involvement & Planning:

The adjudicator would like to welcome Mountrath to the 2016 National Tidy Towns Competition. Thank you for your entry form and nicely drafted hand drawn annotated map, which was a great help on adjudication day. Your overall approach to the competition is good and it is obvious that the committee of 6 core members work hard to keep up the high level of care witnessed on adjudication day. Plus a great turn out from the younger members of the community with regular support from your scouts and schoolchildren right down to little tots, a special thanks to them for all their work. The enclosed photographs gave us a great flavour of the work they do with you. We note your hope to have a junior tidy town committee member in 2017 so good luck with progressing that. The Committees work with the Local Authority and Laois Partnership is to be commended and your participation in their workshops can only further your committees knowledge. Thank you for including a town plan, however many centres find it useful to structure the plan with projects in each category in order to progress in the completion.

Built Environment and Streetscape:

Your village has a lovely mix of new and old buildings and in spite of being dissected by a busy road retains a real sense of place and community. The blue oval sign to the Quaker Burial Ground was nicely placed and informative.

this year was a milestone for you and its successful establishment has earned you marks. Your public houses and eateries contribute much to the overall appearance of the village however remove Christmas lights at the Fountain Hose once the festive season is over. The traditional frontage at Galbraiths and Fitzpatrick’s was lovely to see but perhaps the artificial hanging flowers here could be removed as they are now faded. The Miller corner house looked newly painted. Once again the church was a delight having been decorated for a summer wedding. Facades and more importantly gable walls along the main street were all looking neat and clean. As with many other centres you have a prominent empty site and we wish you luck with new life being brought to this prime spot in the future but in the short term the sweet shop mural was well done. Floral Visions had a lively shopfront. We look forward to your progress on the signage with Laois County Council. Scoil Bride is beautifully located beside the river and tucked away amongst trees here. A lovely spot.

Landscaping and Open Spaces:

The emphasis on establishing a strong landscape structure in the town is to be commended with your programme of tree planting included your local students. The play area and walks by the river are such a gem. It is a lovely peaceful spot. We realised, during our judging tour of Laois, the high standards of play areas in the county. But with regard to setting and maintenance we have to say the Mountrath playground was by far the best we saw in the County. We thank your committee members for the effort required to keep up this level of presentation and care.

The 1916 memorial opposite was beautifully presented and a striking modern design. Ensure the trees are kept well-watered for the first few growing seasons. We hope you resolve the landscape issue at the river. Look to your Mountrath Local Biodiversity Action Plan for appropriate species to be planted at each of your habitat types.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities:

Your recently completed Biodiversity Plan will give you an understanding of the importance of your surrounding habitats and this work has gained you marks in this category. A key in this category is to follow through on your habitat initiatives and continually assess their successes. To do this we would encourage you to do perhaps survey and audits every 2/3 years to see for example are your butterfly habitats are being used and if not why not – they may need to be relocated or maintained more regularly. Keeping track of all these result will let you see how your habitats are responding to your interventions. The community orchard is a great idea and another way you have found to involve the younger generations. Community orchards are a great opportunity for everyone to learn new skills – fencing, wildlife watching, horticultural skills gained from pruning and maintenance of the fruit trees and jam and fruit juice making skills, for example, once the fruit is picked.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management:

We hope to see your water butts installed for next years adjudication visit. We hope your school are enjoying their participation in An Taisces Green School scheme. For further advice on how to address this category we would encourage you to visit http://localprevention.ie/tidy-towns/ . The Local Prevention website have added a specific

'Tidy Towns' page to their website so you can 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 may give you ideas for other ways to address this category to the benefit of the town.

Tidiness and Litter Control:

Be aware of redundant signage e.g. the Mill Lane sign beside the Quaker Graveyard and old hanging basket brackets at upper floors on the main street; remove if no longer in use. There were a few redundant poles in the town so liaise with your area engineer to remove these poles if no new signage is proposed for example on the Dublin road approach. We note the accident at the bridge so we hope to see this repaired soon. Standards of litter control were good with very little litter evident in the village core area; Bins were emptied so well done to all involved in the weekly litter picks. The play area was immaculate with bins here clean and empty. We are glad to hear of your involvement in Laois Clean Up Week. Excessive signage at the entrance to the Mountrath Business Park could be tided and rationalised. Blue and white plastic to poles on the approach from Portlaoise were looking tatty and should be removed.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas:

The residential properties in the village were presented to a high standard so well done to all your residents.

Remove tree ties to the young trees at Ard Erin and the mature tree overhanging the entrance may need attention.

There were some well presented cottages along the riverbank at Stillbrook. Bright painted doors were admired at White Horse view. At Kiln Lane the nicely presented pots were somewhat hiding the estate sign and the bright pink bench here added a splash of colour.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes:

Generally there was appropriate maintenance of the verges on the approaches to the village And approach roads were well maintained with speed signage clearly visible. The neat Failte angled sign by the Portlaoise Road junction was particularly well maintained with its setting amongst summer flowering perennials. A number of gable walls in the town could be refreshed as they are prominent when viewed from the main street for example the wall at the junction with the Church of Ireland and the Quaker Graveyard. The grass must be particularly hard to maintain on the central town roundabout. Perhaps fill all of this space with 1 or 2 types of perennials for impact and to reduce mowing commitments. Is a roundabout the best spot for a seat? Is it ever used? Consider relocating it to reduce clutter here. The Mountrath twining sign and 50kph speed sign by the derelict cottage were very dirty so good luck with your discussion with the County Council on signage.

Concluding Remarks:

Mountrath has a lovely riverside setting and the tone of the works that have been done by your group so far will ensure the protection of its heritage and landscape for the next generation. Well done on this. You have a proactive approach to addressing issues and it’s no wonder you are all kept so busy throughout the year. All involved with this year’s entry are warmly thanked and congratulated for their efforts and we wish you the very best for 2017.