Ardclough scores 291 points and 64.67pc in the 2014 Tidy Towns Competition

IMG_3639Ardclough community scored a record 291 points (maximum points 450) in the Tidy Towns competition to finish joint ninth in Kildare and second in their category in the county. This mantained a record of having increased their score every year since first entering in 1998. Ardclough’s lowest score was in the expanded Sustainable Waste and Resource Management category.

ardclough posterArdclough’s record in previous Tidy Towns competitions (originally maximum marks 300): 1998: 150 (50pc). 1999: 154 (51pc)2000: 164 (53pc)2001: 175 (58pc)2002: 181 (60pc)2003: 183 (61p)c2004: 185 (62pc)2005: 188 63pc), (maximum marks 400) were: 2007: 219 (54pc)2008: 238 (59.5pc)2009: 248 (62pc)2010: 252 (63pc)2011: 259 (65pc), 2012: 271 (69pc), 2013: 282 (70.5pc), (maximum points 450): 2014: 291 (64.67pc).

Straffan won the County Kildare award for the eighth successive year with a record 313 points, Kill came third in Kildare with 299 points. The results for Co Kildare were; Straffan 313, Naas 306, Kill 305, Rathangan 304, Ballymore 301, Broadford and Maynooth 299, Newbridge 297, Ardclough, Clane and Leixlip 291.

Marks awarded in 2014: Community Involvement & Planning 46/60 Built Environment 37/ 50 Landscaping 37/ 50 Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities 37/50, Sustainable Waste and Resource Management 13/50, Tidiness and Litter Control 50/90, Residential Streets & Housing Areas 35/50, Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes 36/50 TOTAL MARK 291/450

Judge’s comments (pdf version), Community Involvement & Planning 46/60 (77pc): We have noted that Ardclough Community Council of 16 people are affiliated to Muintir na Tire and hold monthly meetings throughout the year and have strong links with residents, voluntary groups and schools. You receive support from local businesses and public bodies. We also note your regular Saturday morning work activities and fund raising events at other times. Well done on the plan for 2014-2016; we wish you well in its implementation. Your documentation is well presented but rather than placing pages in the plastic divisions, just bind them into the rings; that relieves the difficulty of taking them out and putting them back. The availability of TUS workers is no doubt a great help for your community and we have noted your other social activities with senior citizens on bus trips. Your website is an important link in these modern times and reduces the frequency for newsletters. It is clear that you are an active community and availing of modern means of communication. Many thanks for attaching a map of the area with explanation of the projects.

Built Environment and Streetscape 37/50 (74pc): The triangular open space in the centre of the village at the church was admired for its nice trees, grass, low stone walls and very interesting and elegant sign on the green. Some of the wall capping needs repair. The well painted church is enhanced by a mature landscape including a Cedar Tree. A dead birch tree should be removed. We admired the new Scoil Aine Naofa with its fine landscaping and two Green Flags. We noted the successful efforts made to disguise the derelict cottage which even had flowers displayed at the front wall. The Community Centre is an old school which is well painted, sported window boxes and hanging baskets and no evidence of litter. The GAA club is a fine well maintained building as are the grounds. It has a fine beech hedge boundary on one side and stone walls to the front. Arthur’s Walk and the Grand Canal Way are important amenities for the community and for wildlife.

Landscaping and Open Spaces 37/50 (74pc): The main structural elements in the landscape are trees and you have some good examples in Ardclough. In planting new trees it is best to use a single species on a road or street for uniformity. In that regard, the mix of tree species on the approach road shows the importance of choosing one species in this situation and in this situation we would choose the hornbeams. Also, it is important to ensure that the base of new trees is maintained free of weeds and grass and also flower beds to ensure early establishment. When trees are established it is important to remove the stakes as the stems can get damaged from the ties or stake. This is something that needs to be done every year, especially with the new trees at the school. However, stakes are usually not needed after two years and therefore, they should be removed as soon as possible. Guideline for plant containers is to use them only where planting directly into the ground is not possible. In this regard, we note that you have provided concrete bases for the plant containers in Wheatfield. The use of permanent planting is encouraged rather than relying on annuals which are more time consuming and we note that this is an approach that you have adopted. the plant containers in Wheatfield. The use of permanent planting is encouraged rather than relying on annuals which are more time consuming and we note that this is an approach that you have adopted.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural 37/50 (74pc): We note that a number of your actions under this heading are proposed. You have a rich natural area surrounding your community and it is important to promote an awareness of its many traits and to map these habitats. Appreciating your local wildlife resources is vital in order to achieve under this category. In this regard researching and raising awareness is more important than ‘doing’ at the early stages. Biodiversity is under threat globally and sadly Ireland is a part of this trend. Habitats of value include specimen trees, hedgerows, treelines, streams, woodlands and wetlands. List the plants and animals to be found in your natural environment and recognise their significance (native, protected, or alien invasive?). This would be a very useful project for schools.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management 13/50 (26pc): Well done on the follow-up from the household survey in providing a leaflet with energy conservation advice tips and also the one on transport. We hope they were well received by your community. We have noted your practice of saving paper by printing on both sides and the beginnings of the campaign to reduce food waste. To determine the amount of material recycled you may wish to contact your waste contractors who can help with this. Try to find out what is being thrown away and armed with this information you can start to think about how waste can be reduced. Another thought is in regard to grass cutting. You can avoid collecting mowings by cutting the grass more frequently and using mulching mowers which shred the clippings. Also, self-watering hanging baskets are a help in reducing the amount of water used and also the task of watering. Other waste minimisation projects might include working with retailers to cut down on packaging, reminding people to re-use shopping bags, discouraging junk mail, encouraging the re-use of water bottles and coffee mugs at school and at work.

Tidiness and Litter Control 37/50 (56pc): We were pleased with our visit to Ardclough; it is a very nice and clean community. The signs were clean and hedge well maintained. A good hedgerow opposite the triangular open space was spoiled by the presence of some litter.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas 35/50 (70pc): In general, we were pleased with the standard of private housing in Ardclough. The Wheatfield Upper estate presents a pleasant image with its nice trees, well maintained grass, well-kept houses, some of which were well landscaped. We noted the barrel plant containers are positioned on a concrete base which is sensible. There was no evidence of weeds at the kerbs and there was an attractive planting at the entrance. Congratulations on winning the Best Kept Esate in Kildare award. We also enjoyed Lishandra Manor estate; it is good to have the two estates with a high standard.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes 36/50 (72pc): We were greeted with a floral display at the “Welcome” sign. Unfortunately, the impact was lessened by the dead branches in the planting left of the sign. The signs were clean. As mentioned under landscaping above, the mix of tree species on the approach road shows the importance of choosing the one species in this situation. We admired the palisade fencing and stone wall at the entrance to the Council Yard.