Kildare County Council has entered into an exciting partnership with Kildare GAA to promote the Tidy Towns programme in the county with former Kildare footballer, Johnny Doyle as ambassador.
“As both entities are rooted within the community, there is the obvious benefit of encouraging local involvement in the Tidy Towns effort on the part of individual club members,” said the council.
Apart from Johnny Doyle’s obvious leadership qualities, the council pointed out he also has a background in horticulture and understands fully the importance of local planting and landscaping.
Mr Doyle said this “model of local collaboration which could be replicated in other counties. The focus on energising communities and encouraging local initiative will be key to future success.”
Ger Donnelly, County Chairman, stated; “This is a particularly exciting new venture for Kildare GAA and I have every confidence that we can build on this partnership agreement for the benefit of the towns and villages in the county.”
It is proposed the partnership agreement will be for an initial three year period.
The council said Kildare has come from relative obscurity in the national competition some years ago to now enjoy three gold medals, five silver and two bronze in 2017.
Director of Services, Joe Boland, attributes this to a number of factors including, the establishment of the Tidy Towns Network approximately five years ago.
This involved getting all groups together from time to time to circulate information and get guidance from experts, to encourage local innovation as well as generally creating a sense of excitement and team work.
The network is comprised of all Tidy Towns groupings and is based on a model which has been successful in other counties.
Another key aspect, according to KCC’s Chief Executive Peter Carey, has been “the extent to which all departments within the Council very much regard the presentation of the county’s towns and villages as a corporate priority and actively collaborate with the Tidy Towns groups.”
This might involve, for example, completion of joint projects particularly in the areas of landscaping and public realm improvements.
In addition, groups are encouraged, and even receive financial support to prepare strategic plans encompassing annual action plans.
This has the additional benefit in that projects are “primed” and ripe for grant aid particularly in terms of the recently reintroduced Town and Village Renewal funding.
“There is also an over-riding emphasis on maximising local synergies in order to ensure the overall betterment of the county’s tidy towns and villages. This is particularly evident in Kildare Town, which is officially Ireland’s cleanest town as announced in the IBAL (Irish Businesses Against Litter) awards in January, 2017,” said the council.
“This has been a source of great local excitement particularly as the town will also benefit from a prize in the form of a specially commissioned sculpture to the value of €40,000. Again, the winning format involved very close co-operation between the staff of the Roads Department, the local Tidy Towns group as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
“In particular, efforts on the part of the local Tidy Towns group through a Community Employment Scheme supplemented the efforts of the County Council. In addition, through active community involvement, special clean-ups and related projects were also organised. The winning of the competition was marked by a special event in the Town Square sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce.”
In terms of the national Tidy Towns competition, the following were the prize winners in 2016: Gold – Maynooth, Naas and Straffan; Silver – Newbridge, Rathangan, Kill, Celbridge and Leixlip; Bronze – Clane, Ballymore Eustace.
According to Mayor Ivan Keatley, “success breeds success and there is no doubt but that the achievements of the medal winners has given an impetus to all other groups in the county. All in all, County Kildare looks to having a bright future in the competition and, hopefully, the prospect of a national winner can be realised in the coming years.”