A newly created Waterford City Tidy Towns Committee is working towards achieving ambitious goals and aims to encourage community collaboration (header across top of right page)
MANY hands make light work is an adage which is being put into practice by a newly formed Waterford City Tidy Towns committee.Areas across County Waterford have enjoyed an illustrious involvement with this prestigious nationwide competition for many years including both Stradbally and Lismore.
Now, Waterford City is aiming to revive its association with the competition and showcase the city in all its glory. Since its formation in March, a new committee has been quietly working away behind the scenes and has set an ambitious target of winning the overall award within the next five to six years.All involved with the effort are confident of success and hope that many members of the public and local businesses will come on board and display a positive ‘can do’ attitude. Waterford has already been named as ‘Ireland’s Cleanest City’ in the Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) Anti-Litter League. It’s hoped that all of the positive developments which have already taken place can be further built on as part of the Tidy Towns bid for glory. “It’s all about creating a bit of pride in the city centre,” says Chair of the Committee, Michael Garland.
“We have gathered together an excellent and passionate committee, supported by Waterford Council and the City Centre Management Group. It’s a brilliantly branded project which Waterford City should be aiming to win. This can only be done with a collaborative approach. In 2019 we will benchmark a number of innovative projects, which will contribute to the application process. A business plan will be drawn up in due course and we will work from there, with the ultimate goal of winning within the next five/six years.”He says Waterford City has been “crying out” for this collaborative approach for many years and strongly believes that now is the right time to implement such a plan. Through the City Centre Management Group, the committee was officially set up in March. Since then the group have been meeting fortnightly, in Boxworks, planning the complex and substantial application process.
Around 30 meetings have so far been held between meetings of individual committee members and collective group meetings. Michael says all involved are giving up their own time and are fully committed to the cause.
“We all want this city to be the city it should be,” he says. Recently, the Tidy Towns Committee approached all of the businesses in the City Centre/Purple Flag Zone to ask them to get involved. Representatives distributed forms informing local businesses of their activities and gathered feedback. There has already been a significant level of interest and a good ‘buy-in’ from all involved. “There are people out there who want to make a difference,” says Michael.“When I mention ‘Tidy Towns’ it is an instantly recognised brand. Everyone knows it and respects it.” Businesses are being asked to keep their business fronts clean and tidy by signing up to a Tidy Towns Charter.
Those businesses that participate will be in with a chance to win a €1000 voucher and receive a 10% discount (on related products), kindly sponsored by Seamus Reynolds of Morris’s DIY, on the Cork Road.“It’s about bringing everyone together, working together and also challenging people to put their hands up and get involved in something,” says Michael.
He hopes for an “organic” roll-out of the initiative and hopes that it will “grow gradually like the flowers”. CEO of Waterford Chamber Gerald Hurley says they are “wholly committed” to the initiative. “We see this as a fantastic opportunity for the city centre” he says.
He believes Waterford Chamber and its members can have an important role to play.
“Our job is about presenting Waterford in its best possible light and trying to attract investment,” he said. “For far too long, we recognise that there has been an overreliance on the Council and a view that it’s their responsibility but it’s not. The business community, business representative organisations, and other different groups all have to take responsibility. It’s our city, and if we want to reach our full potential in attracting investment, visitors and tourism, this commitment must be made.”
He says many local groups are already engaging in worthwhile initiatives and laudable activities and he hopes to “capture that energy” and put it under the one banner of Waterford City Tidy Towns. He cites the ‘Keep Waterford Beautiful’ initiative by Tom Murphy Volkswagen as an example of what can be achieved. “This shows the interest of individual businesspeople in wanting to make a difference,” he says. The ‘Keep Waterford Beautiful’ initiative is one of many such initiatives which have already been enacted or are in the process of being enacted across the city.These include the recyclable and food waste policies which are being implemented for the city’s festivals under the guidance of Tommie Ryan.
A number of well-established festivals and initiatives can also complement the Tidy Towns bid, including the Purple Flag (which Waterford has been awarded for the third time); Summer in the City; the Harvest Festival; Winterval; Waterford Walls and groups such as the PPN Waterford, residents’ associations, Waterford Chamber, Waterford Business Group, and many more.
Now, rather than having a fragmented approach, it’s hoped that all can come together under the umbrella of Waterford City Tidy Towns. “All these little bits are already there, so it’s about pulling them together,” says Michael who highlights the importance of “reaching out to people and bringing them into the fold”. Clean-ups are being scheduled as part of an itinerary of activities, including one by the De La Salle Scouts as part of ‘Summer in the City’. In addition, St Stephen’s De La Salle primary school will be proactive members of the proposed projects and have already helped out for this year’s ‘City in Bloom’. Michael Garland says it’s ‘win-win’ for everybody. “We’d like everyone to get involved,” he says. The overall aim is to involve all of the city, with the catchment area involved consisting of all areas within the Outer Ring Road. Gerald Hurley says the potential to enhance the appearance of the city centre must be “embraced as we strive to raise the profile of Waterford on the national and international stage.”
“We are all aware that collaboration is key in developing our city and we are calling on business owners, residents and community groups to embrace the challenge and work with us to ensure Waterford presents a tidy, friendly and welcoming environment for all.”
He continued: “There has been an impressive amount of work carried out already by the committee and the decision to delay submitting an application will allow us the time to get a better by-in from all stakeholders to ensure we are in the best position to put Waterford forward for the judging process.” Michael Garland is also confident of success and looks to the success of ‘City in Bloom’ as an indicator of what can be achieved.
He points out that City in Bloom started with 37 floral displays and has now grown to 470.
Although the Waterford City Tidy Towns committee was only formed in March, a significant amount of progress has already been made.
“A Tidy Towns award would be a significant award for Waterford City to win and the committee are asking that everyone plays their part,” says Michael. With so much enthusiasm, experience and dedication on this hard working committee,Waterford’s chances of success certainly appear strong. Here’s hoping an All-Ireland title arrives in the Déise through the Tidy Towns competition in the near future!