Skerries Tidy Towns Adjudication Report 2014

The following is a copy of the 2014 Adjudication Report. To see the original, and indeed all other Adjudication Reports, go to the Supervalu Tidy Towns site.

Congratulations to Skerries Tidy Towns, a committee of the Skerries Community Association, and on all the others involved in getting Skerries to this success, on their joint achievement!

Tidy Towns Competition 2014

Adjudication Report

Centre: Skerries                                                             Ref: 178

County: Dublin                                                               Mark: 316

Category: E                                                                     Date(s): 12/06/2014

Community Involvement & Planning 60 49
Built Environment and Streetscape 50 40
Landscaping and Open Spaces 50 42
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities 50 39
Sustainable Waste and Resource Management 50 18
Tidiness and Litter Control 90 60
Residential Streets & Housing Areas 50 32
Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes 50 36
TOTAL MARK 450 316


Community Involvement & Planning / Rannpháirtíocht an Phobail & Pleanáil:

We would like to welcome Skerries to the 2014 SuperValu TidyTowns competition. It is heartening to read that your dedicated committee of nine members has approximately 300 volunteers to help you with your projects. There is no doubt that such a high level of participation is a reflection of the pride that local people take in the town as well as an appreciation of the excellent work that the tidy towns group do on an annual basis. You are commended on your clever approach to attracting volunteers by including people who wish to get involved on a project by project basis (rather than becoming full committee members) and it seems to be working very well. The importance of building good relationships with Fingal County Council, the Fingal LEADER Partnership, Foroige and other organisations such as UCD is clearly demonstrated in the success of your projects. In addition, it is not surprising to see that you enjoy good support from local businesses. Well done also on your successful approach to building partnerships with other voluntary groups in Skerries such as the Community Association, the cycling initiative, sustainable Skerries, guerilla gardeners and Skerries reaching out. We read about your communication strategy with interest and it is great to see that you utilise every available means of communication that is open to you. You are highly commended on the excellent work that you have undertaken in association with the schools in Skerries. It seems that your approach of appointing a liaison person to make contact with each school has been a great success as you have succeeded in raising awareness, attracting volunteers to help the tidy towns group and delegating projects to the pupils. Thank you for your comprehensive entry form and well done on following the adjudicator’s advice in 2013. We note your comments regarding the area you wish to have adjudicated but we would recommend that the limits of your area are included on the map submitted. In addition, a separate page that lists each project (and more importantly, the project number) should be attached to the map as this would make life significantly easier for the adjudicator during the visit. Regrettably, the map provided does not provide great detail on the many residential estates to be found in Skerries. Your three-year plan was read with interest and it is a comprehensive and ambitious document and we wish you every success in its implementation in the years ahead.

Built Environment and Streetscape / An Timpeallacht Thógtha agus Sráid-dreacha:

Skerries is a lovely coastal town that is a pleasure to visit. Its charms are numerous, but its buildings, coastal location and beach, harbour and high quality open spaces stand out. The impressive array of buildings in your town is second to none in the view of the adjudicator. The town centre is a delight with its many attractive historical structures that include the Carnegie Library Building (and its fantastic to see its original use restored), St Patricks Church, the Malting House Inn and the Garda Station drawing immediate attention. The wonderfully intact terrace of residential dwellings on Strand Street (between Fairs Lane and TMG Cycles) looked very well while the Hamilton Monument provides an impressive focal point to the town centre. Shops and businesses also play their part as the standard of presentation for the vast majority is very high – making it difficult to pick out some examples. Nonetheless, a number stood out and they included; the Skerries book shop, Venezuela, the Olive Deli, the Shoe Horn, EBS and Blooms while the Rockabill also impressed. The contribution made by their planting also helped to enhance Strand Street with many providing magnificent and colourful hanging baskets and window boxes. Church Street was almost as impressive as Strand Street with its wonderful intact streetscapes of traditional design buildings drawing positive attention. The commercial buildings on this street are also deserving of praise and good examples include; Divino, the Present Company, Nealons Pub, S. M. Kellys Solicitors Building, the Red Island Wine shop, the Parlour Bar, Ritz and the Steakhouse which all caught the adjudicators eye. Supervalu also looked well with its planting providing nice colour. Naturally, the good buildings are not confined to two streets in Skerries with arguably the best building in the town (the Windmill) to be found in the Skerries Mills Park. This is a wonderfully distinct structure that is a tremendous asset to your town. The Church of Ireland building nearby looked particularly well with its freshly painted gates and railings. The Harbour was also admired as it appeared to be carefully maintained and it looked very well while many of the properties along Harbour Road and Quay Street also impressed. It is great to see development work taking place beside Brasscos restaurant and we look forward to seeing this building completed for next year. The new memorial to those lost at sea was spotted and it also appears to be a popular with people sitting down on it and taking in the views. The narrow windy streets around the Hoar Rock and the Square were lovely and provide great character to your town. It is noted from your application form that no less than 18 projects are presented for adjudication under this category for this years competition – and all are impressive and help to further enhance Skerries. These projects include; the erection of a plaque at the tides apartments car park entrance, the installation of exercise machines along the South Strand, the repair and painting of the harbour railings, the completion of a signage survey and a range of painting projects. We were delighted to read that the historical trail for Skerries (‘St. Patricks Footprint’) was also launched.

Landscaping and Open Spaces / Tírdhreachú agus Spásanna Oscailte:

The tidy towns group has been particularly busy with projects under the landscaping and open-space category with many excellent schemes identified and carried out. The adjudicator particularly liked the considered approach taken to your landscaping projects. For example, we applaud the decision to put summer plants into the perennial beds to provide for summer colours and your decision to plant wind and salt resistant plant varieties along the South strand. These beds were observed during adjudication and they looked tremendously well with their natural and colourful appearance and they also help to enhance the appearance of South Strand. Well done also on selecting groundcover roses for the verges that are difficult to maintain as this solution should provide for good ground cover as well as summer colour. Please let us know if this project is successful (from a maintenance and biodiversity point of view) in your entry next year. Your tree planting programme for the residential estates is highly commended as the benefits of these projects will be seen for years to come. It is great to see that the landscaping projects of the committee and your volunteers are not confined to key locations and prominent parts of the town and that you provide and maintain planting schemes at roundabouts, unclaimed sites & the grounds of public buildings. During adjudication, the Dublin Road roundabout was typically impressive and gave a positive first impression of Skerries. The landscaping of the Hamilton monument (red summer planting) is eye catching and provides lovely summer colour to the town centre. The contribution of trees is also appreciated with the trees that line Church Street providing a wonderful example of how they can enhance a streetscape. The landscaping beds outside the community centre impressed as they accommodated a good diversity of species. The contribution of planters throughout the town was appreciated, but particularly in the centre along Strand Street (around the monument) where the diversity of colours gives a positive impression. The planters at the entrance to Sherlock Park also looked quite well. The natural landscaping provided at Skerries Mills looked well and it was appropriate to this setting and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that Skerries Mills is home to the largest collection of willow species in Ireland and they are used in the Irish willow breeding programme – their contribution to pollen (and therefore bees!) is also acknowledged. An attractive landscaping display could also be found at Holmpatrick. The planting bed alongside the rope walk was also observed but it appeared that small amounts of weeds were starting to push through. In general however, this was considered to be strong performance under this category.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities / Fiadhúlra, Gnáthóga agus Taitneamhachtaí Nádúrtha:

Your projects under this category were read with great interest and we are pleased to see that you have commissioned a wildlife and sustainable management enhancement report, which incorporates your existing survey of sea birds and we look forward to seeing the complete report in 2015. The Wildlife Safari is a great initiative and means of raising awareness and the booklet was read with interest. We are particularly impressed with the ‘adopt a beach’ project as it serves two important functions; it educates people about the importance of the coast as a habitat and allows you to appoint ‘guardians’ of the coast. We were delighted to read that you have teamed up with Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Seal Sanctuary in order to deliver public talks, seminars and walks \ tours – all of which sound very interesting. Be sure to keep a note of how many people attend these events as we would be interested to know about the effectiveness of your programme in raising awareness. Your work with the Biodiversity Officer in Fingal County Council has been observed and we would also like to hear of the many projects that have been undertaken by the schools that are of relevance to this category. Your work at the Kybe Pond is acknowledged and there was plenty of evidence that the wildlife of the pond (ducks, mallards, etc) is thriving as plenty could be seen during adjudication. We note the comments of the adjudicator in 2013, in relation to making the wildlife survey results available on your website and we wondered if any progress has been made in this project? Perhaps the committee will consider (along with your project partners such as Birdwatch Ireland and the Irish Seal Sanctuary) having an interactive survey table, which would enable members of the public to report sightings (along with the days and times) of the lesser spotted birds and other sea animals. This could then provide valuable baseline information and assessments can be made as to whether populations are increasing or decreasing over time.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management / Bainistiú Acmhainní agus Dramhaíola Inbhuanaithe:

Your committee are no doubt aware that the total marks available for this category has increased significantly from 20 marks in 2013 to 50 marks in 2014. We are delighted to read that you carried out the general household waste management awareness survey and we would encourage you to analyse these findings in order to identify projects that would achieve behaviour change in waste management. We would also encourage you to share your findings with local businesses as they may wish to respond to customers views by taking measures such as supplying goods with less / no packaging. It is an excellent idea to hold seminars as a follow-on to the survey and we recommend that the survey is undertaken again in approximately 2 years time to assess if performances have improved. Consider also including some questions on resource use such as do you harvest rainwater for gardening or other purposes? It would also be beneficial if questions were included on issues such as access to recycling facilities as these are things that the tidy towns committee (along with the Council and waste operators) have a strong influence on. Well done also on your other projects that have been undertaken under this category which are too numerous to name individually. Don’t forget to try and monitor the outcomes of the projects on a regular basis as this will indicate whether or not behaviour across the community is changing to more sustainable patterns or not. We liked the idea of the tree nursery in the school and we wondered if any of these trees are used in your tree planting programmes? We are delighted to see that waste minimisation and sustainable resource management projects are undertaken by a wide cross-section of people in Skerries – in schools, among dog walkers and by retailers.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:

Well done on your adopt a patch initiative which seems to go from strength to strength. You are encouraged to continue this initiative as the evidence suggests that is it is proving very effective and deterring people from dropping litter. It is great to see that the spring cleaning is so well supported by schools, youth groups and scouts. We are pleased to report that your performance has improved with very small amounts of litter found in a very few locations such as the coastal walk (beside the Red Island car park), on rope lane and in the Skerries Mill car park. In all cases, the litter comprised of one or two pieces and it appeared to be recently dropped. We congratulate the transition year students on a job well done in relation to their collection of used chewing gum and the innovative idea of displaying the used gum in a shop window to demonstrate the amounts on an annual basis. Your work on improving the litter bins at South Strand and other locations was observed and we noted that your appeals to residents to keep their own areas weed free seems to have worked incredibly well as the vast majority of areas in Skerries looked neat and tidy. You are heartily commended on your excellent work on the signage project as virtually all signs seen during adjudication were clean and in good condition and it is considered that this has made a big difference to the appearance of your town and well done on working with property owners in Skerries in relation to the presentation of the properties and retailers with respect to storing goods on public pavements. We are pleased to see that you have taken the second round adjudicators advice in 2013 and painted the fence at the harbour. Small improvements remain possible. The rope walk was a little bit littered and weedy in parts and the wall along the rope walk would benefit from paint in time for 2015. The wooden fence alongside the pond may need to be treated in time for next year and a headless sign pole can be found close to the junction of Hoar Rock and North Strand. The edging in one part of the Skerries Mill car park was untidy looking and poorly presented. The entrance gates to St Patricks Church may also need to be painted for next years competition. However, in general, this was a very good performance under this category.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:

Your best kept house and garden award in the town centre is an excellent initiative and there seems little doubt that it played a big part in achieving the very high standard of presentation amongst properties in Skerries. No doubt that the best kept estate in Skerries award has similar effects. Well done also on your excellent work in improving incidental sites in residential areas, repainting road signs and estates and helping out elderly residents with remedial work on their houses. Congratulations also to the Skerries News on the remarkable achievement of refurbishing the thatched cottage and opening up a new local tourist information point. The standard of presentation across individual estates was consistently high with virtually all estates appearing well maintained with kerbs and road sides weed free and amenity areas neatly trimmed and in good condition. The high quality appearance (and presence) of name signage in residential estates is also highly commended. The approach taken to estates such as Mourne View, where trees have been planted is applauded and the more mature estates demonstrate that trees can be just as effective at enhancing appearance as landscaping schemes. While the vast majority of estates looked very well and were clearly subject to regular maintenance, a small number could be improved and they include Sherlock Park were weed at the kerbs and footpaths in poor condition contributed to an untidy appearance.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:

We are delighted to see that you have cleaned all road signs on the approach roads and that the Dublin Road, North Strand & the banks roads were re-surfaced. It is also pleasing to read that the verges on approach roads to the town are managed sensitively in order to encourage biodiversity. The committee is commended on achieving a consistent management approach to its key routes with all approach roads achieving a similarly high standard. The Dublin road approach was admired with clear signage and neat and tidy verges while the Rush approach road also impressed with its nicely maintained banks, clean and visible signage and coastal views welcoming the visitor. The Balbriggan approach appeared to have been the subject of careful maintenance as its appearance seems to have improved significantly from last year – it appeared clean and tidy with neatly trimmed verges.

Second Round Adjudication:

Your second adjudicator concurs with the first in that the current year’s projects which were so thoroughly enumerated on the map and linked to the application form should have been listed separately and attached to the map. Your application however was very clear & concise. Many buildings both commercial and residential looked as though they had been recently painted and include: a painted terrace beside Keanes pub; a white with blue trim dwelling on the corner of Church Street and Little Strand Street; The Plough on the entrance from the Balbriggan Road together with some white single storey dwellings here overlooking the sea; Gerard McGown Solicitors; The Gladstone Inn; Skerries Creche and of course the Tourist Office continues to charm with its visual appeal. Many older single storey dwellings along Church Street could be refurbished to their roadside façade and the broken sign on the Red Banks Restaurant repaired / replaced/ removed. Flower displays on both the Garda Station and SuperValu were dazzling in colour and profusion and permanent planting is thriving especially along Church Street where it successfully ‘softens’ the visually obtrusive wirescape. Skerries beaches were notably clean in every respect even on a hot July afternoon when they were very much in demand. The Harbour enjoys good maintenance also however there was a little litter and a blue bag of something dumped on a corrugated roof. The white wall here could have been rewhitewashed to freshen its appearance and weeds removed from its base; consideration might be given to whitewashing or painting the seated shelter nearby. Can the mooring points be painted in bright colours? The railings to the harbour looked beautiful having recently been painted blue and white. Interpretive panels are a useful and attractive feature of Skerries however one of them (Sli na Slainte) is beginning to peel and should receive some attention soon, likewise the Shennick Island Reserve panel with its beautiful artwork would benefit by a little refurbishment. It was wonderful to witness the high standard of presentation of Skerries many lanes. It was a very great pleasure to revisit Skerries and experience its many delightful charms on a perfect Summers day. Thank you for your many years of participation in the competition.

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