Here's what the SuperValu Tidy Towns 2017 adjudicators had to say about Newtownforbes and above are the marks that Newtownforbes received in this year's competition.
Community Involvement & Planning / Rannpháirtíocht an Phobail & Pleanáil:
Newtownforbes is very welcome to the 2017 Supervalu Tidy Towns Competition.
Thank you for the excellent and concise application form with supporting material and the very clear map of the village which was invaluable to the adjudicator who would not be that familiar with Newtownforbes.
The amalgamation photos of work before and after with the actual written input has worked a treat for this adjudicator at any rate.
The appendices are noted and will be commented upon, depending on relevancy, in the specific sections of this report
You have included much detail of your work in your submission; it will not be possible to address everything in a three page report covering eight sections.
The enhance plan for 2016 -19 is well down the road and what one notices about this plan is that it is practical and achievable within the timescales laid down.
Feel assured that the adjudication was done in a fair and objective manner and in line with the adjudication guidelines.
Weather was not conducive seeing the brightness of the village but the job of adjudication is not weather sensitive.
Adjudicator was taken aback slightly at the volume and slowness of traffic through the village on the day not helped by road works at the northern end of main street, but then you are on a main route N4.
On a personal note this adjudicator has a fondness for the Gaelic name Lios Breac and also he is now aware where Clonguish football team hail from.
The village has made more than incremental improvement in the competition over the last four years and well done on that.
You have an impressive list of supportive bodies and there is no point in repeating them back to you except to say that you have derived much support from these judging by the project listing under the comment section in your table.
It takes a lot of interaction on a committee’s part to achieve this level of support so well done on that.
A 20 member committee is impressive and I am sure that you have an executive of 4/5 with the rest divided into sub groups with responsibilities. If this is the case state it in next year’s application.
Good to note that you have strong links with the schools as well as the younger generation are going to be the next “older” generation.
Communication methods are very much social media drive but the longest social media in existence is word of mouth and I am sure that this works well for you too.
Well done on your input under this category it was concise informative and very much to the point.
Built Environment and Streetscape / An Timpeallacht Thógtha agus Sráid-dreacha:
One presumes that the infrastructural work that was been done on the day was still water pipe laying related and when completed it will be a job well done.
It goes without saying that when finished the roads will need re surfacing.
You are wished well with your grant application for the undergrounding (is there such a word!) of the electricity cables.
If you succeed you will be one of the few towns or villages to get this work done in the present economic climate, funding options have dwindled since some years back.
The new footpath structure is impressive and practical of course.
The new half barrels and planters add that little extra to the areas that they are placed at, again well done on obtaining funding for this venture.
Some effort went into the design and detail of the Cemetery Information Board a painstaking but worthwhile task that had a positive conclusion.
Bohan's Pub camouflage job is very effective but it seems that this establishment as it stands will be no more in due course according to the planning notice on the adjoining side gates.
The following are a few personal observations of the adjudicator:
St Marys RC is a very impressive low roofed building with excellently maintained grounds, boundary walls and has adequate parking facilities as well.
Some well presented commercial establishments were admired during the walkabout these included Bells Butchers,Tus Nua cafe and McGowan’s Pub.
Comment has already been made on the camouflaging work on Bohans and this has been replicated in other unoccupied buildings as well.
The adjudicator would have liked to access the Castle and Demesne but there didn’t seem to be an open entry?
The National School combining the old and new was very well presented with ample parking and safety signs evident.
This area also houses the excellent Clonguish GAA Grounds and Clubhouse which is a fairly large establishment.
Bollards and the overall entrance to the Castle Demesne gave an appealing look to that part of the village.
The old convent must now be part of the apartment complex it was not clear to the adjudicator whether this was the case or not.
The Chapel Building attached looks as if it has no use which is more the pity as it has stain glass windows of note.
Well done to the school children who did the colourful paintings on the hoarding in the north section of the village – very effective indeed.
Some very fine private residences with beautiful gardens were observed during the walkabout.
Newtownforbes is not without its unoccupied or derelict properties, one in particular towards the Longford end of the village stood out as doors were open and it could be easily accessed.
This was once a fine family home and one is tempted to ask –What’s the story?
Overall the standard was very good and merits an increase for work done over the last year.
Landscaping and Open Spaces / Tírdhreachú agus Spásanna Oscailte:
The standard of landscaping on view was very good and this was on a day that the weather wasn’t too kind.
You have done some excellent ongoing work in maintaining existing planting arrangements to a very high standard.
Tree pruning is very necessary but some towns and villages don’t seem to get the message that where it is needed if contributes to the health and longevity of different species.
Also the remedial work that you have done at Hursons has had the desired effect and as one local put it to me – long overdue!
All this work takes much voluntary effort in terms of negotiations, organising and getting the actual physical work done.
You are wished well with your application for the development of a community garden amenity as it will be a great addition to the village and hopefully both a productive and relaxing place as well.
Some exceptional private gardens were viewed on the day and they would look even better if the weather was kinder.
The flowers planted at the base of trees looked very effective but opinion is divided on whether this is good practice or not.
I’m sure you have been guided by professional advice on the matter.
St Marys Church grounds of course were resplendent and had well maintained shrub and plant beds.
A good standard of presentation and on par with last year.
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities / Fiadhúlra, Gnáthóga agus Taitneamhachtaí Nádúrtha:
The principle objective of this category is firstly to create an awareness of the wild life habitats that are within in your catchment.
The measures that you have put in place all contribute to good wildlife preservation and promotion.
The wildflower plot was identified by the adjudicator but could not be observed at its best because of the weather conditions.
It is in an ideal location near the playground and hopefully it will form part of the daily visit to the playground by parents and young children.
It would be a good introduction to children to the subject of wildlife and its importance in our daily lives.
The adjudicator cannot remember if you have a notice board that publicises the wildlife garden if not maybe you might consider involving the local National School in a mini project to design.
The members of your committee that attended the course in Longford could be the leaders of this mini project.
Tree planting is another good measure to encourage wildlife preservation and of course this crosses over into the previous section.
The swift identification project is something that encompasses many other places in Longford.
The adjudicator has been a long time advocate of having local wild life enthusiasts give talks to local groups.
You are fortunate that you have a man with in depth knowledge of swifts in your midst.
Japanese knotweed is a nationwide problem but local county councils have been very proactive in putting warning and information notices in areas that have a prevalence of this potentially destructive invasive plant.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management / Bainistiú Acmhainní agus Dramhaíola Inbhuanaithe:
Good to note that one of your ,members has been responsible for driving on the Scoil Mhuires achievements in the Green Flag programme under the waste category.
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management presented some problems for centres in past years but gradually it has become more understandable.
A number of specific seminars on the subject, notably one by Monaghan County Council last year, have been held around the country.
Your awareness campaign on matters such as growing your own produce and projects such as your food waste survey all fit within what is needed in terms of the guidelines in this category.
The following websites are also sources of good project ideas and should be examined.
www.localprevention.ie www.greenhomes.ie and www.sustainableprocessing.ie
There are many individual environmental consultancy companies offer ring services on this subject matter as well but as a first step contact your local county environmental office for guidance.
Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:
Your comment 'litter control continues to be major problem' would resonate with towns and villages all over the country.
Despite the multitude of adverts and awareness campaigns that have taken place the problem has still persisted and continues to be a headache for many towns and villages.
On the day in question the standard of litter control was quite good and the efforts of the group in organising regular litter picks seems to paying off.
Also top marks to the individual FAS worker for his daily work - he deserves the positive mention that you have in your submission.
Of course this work is complemented by your committee’s voluntary efforts on an ongoing basis.
General tidiness was also quite good and the changes and improvements mentioned in your application form were noted during the walkabout.
The adjudicator was impressed with measures taken to camouflage areas and buildings that had fallen into untidiness and dereliction.
The removal of unsightly poles and the painting undertaken all contributed to the general tidiness of the village which has been somewhat disrupted by the laying of pipes over a long period.
The improvements listed in your application were all visited by the adjudicator so there is no need to repeat the back to you.
A few side areas and a number of boundary walls and gable ends were in need of a basic coat of paint.
There were also a number of untidy and littered areas, such as near the Old Convent, that need to be monitored and cleaned up.
Some sections of the kerbsides had too much residue with cigarette butts being the main offender.
Overall the standard was good and your efforts have merited an increase in marks.
Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:
The adjudicator visited, by shanks mare no less and in the most inclement conditions, all bar one or two of the housing developments and residential areas that you have listed in your map.
One didn’t realise that there were quite so many in a village of the size of Newtownforbes and was quite tired after traversing Corry Park across from the GAA grounds to the delightful Rose Cottage on the north side of the village on the N4.
The overall standard of presentation and the manner which most individual homesteads were maintained was impressive.
Credit to all homeowners in these estates who have presented the properties to the best standards and in many cases provided gardens that were colourful.
Like everywhere else there were a few that did not conform and this is the case in every village and town in Ireland.
The adjudicator was slightly confused as to whether the Old Convent was now part of the Courtyard Complex.
The adjudicator would impress upon the committee the need to be in constant contact with representatives of these areas on an ongoing basis.
It is not clear if you have a resident’s association representative on your committee if not maybe it should be considered for next year’s application.
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:
Approach roads, streets and back areas are central for overall presentation representing the means by which one gains access to a village or town and their condition of course often forms first impressions.
The approach roads into Newtownforbes did give that good impression.
The main road in from Longford on N 4 was well presented but traffic seemed to back up from near enough to the boundary of the village.
The adjudicator is conscious that the committee has worked hard over a few years to influence LCC to upgrade this entrance and your efforts have been successful.
The entrance has a pleasant appeal with the blue and white name sign and nearer the village there’s a nice and attractive green area supplemented by maturing saplings and planting arrangement.
The road that goes on to Ballinalee was also well presented on the day as was the entrance west of the GAA field.
The north side entrance of the N4 on route to Sligo was the most appealing in the eyes of this adjudicator.
The adjudicator would ask the committee that the names of villages or towns where secondary roads are going to be inserted in your excellent map for next year.
For the efforts you put into getting LCC to make good a few areas on entrances an additional mark is merited.
This was the first time that the adjudicator had the pleasure of taking time out to walk around the village of Newtownforbes and the experience despite the inclement weather was pleasant.
You are wished well in the competition for the years ahead