Town Team aims to improve Boyle

Boyle Town Team is now up and running with a number of positive initiatives planned for 2015 and into 2016.

Over the past year Roscommon County Council has pursued a policy of establishing Town Teams in six key areas within the county to develop, promote and regenerate the towns and areas in which they are located. This has been achieved through a series of public consultation workshops and as a result Town Teams have been established in each of six towns, namely Boyle, Strokestown, Roscommon Town, Ballaghaderreen, Castlerea and Monksland. Membership of Town Teams represents the wide variety of interests from the community, voluntary business and statutory sectors that will influence the successful development of the towns and their hinterlands.

Boyle Town Team is made up of volunteers from various community groups, town and district businesses and other community activists all of whom have the common goal of improving the town of Boyle and the surrounding district. The aim is to breathe fresh life into the town which was severely hit during the recent recession.

The Team is chaired by Brian Nerney, with secretary Justina Gavin and a committee consisting of John Cummins, David Gunning, Trevor Conroy, Tish Golden, Sinead Devine, Martin Connolly, Cecil Draper, Mervyn Boles, Bodo Funke, Frank Geelan, Dara Callaghan, Alison Clarke, Siobhan Gallagher.

The Teams are receiving funding from Roscommon County Council to carry out some small scale initial projects in the area. These projects will be of benefit to everyone living in the area and will once more restore a sense of local pride. These short-term initiatives, some which will take place before Christmas and have been drawn up by the Boyle Team, include the following:

* Power washing monuments and features in town
* Placing window art in derelict buildings
* Publishing a Town Event calendar for 2016
* Assisting Town Traders in Christmas promotions
* Funding new features for Boyle Christmas Lights
* Funding plants and bulbs for Tidy Towns 2016
* Funding phase 1 of a CCTV system for Boyle
* Developing a Greenway from Lough Key to Boyle
* Promoting “ Fall in Love with Boyle” weekend in 2016.

Boyle Town Team members have also met with a representative from Connect Ireland to investigate how best to attract industry to the town.

Small towns and villages are highly dependent on a vibrant rural economy in each catchment area. As the rural economy declines, so our towns and villages began to show the impact of lost revenues and are gradually becoming sites of dereliction. Once upon a time economic decline in a town may have been evident but this was generally concentrated on the peripheries. Since the recession of 2008 the rate of economic decline has accelerated to the point whereby the very centre of many towns is now a scene of dereliction and abandonment. This presents an on-going challenge to policy makers, leaders and to communities to find innovative responses to current problems including the mass exodus of local populations.

In this regard, Roscommon County Council is enhancing the “Putting People First” concept and has been pro-active in tackling this decline in particular by taking the initiative in 2014 of establishing six Town Teams which can now be the driving force and the catalyst for economic regeneration. Establishment of the six Town Teams is aimed towards helping Roscommon County Council, retailers, consumers, citizens and communities to energise and reinvigorate their towns and hinterlands with the collaboration and support of Roscommon LEADER Partnership, Roscommon LEO and other agencies and service providers. The aim is to create jobs, facilitate start-up businesses and above all re-instil the pride we all should have for our towns and their environs.

The Town Teams initiative has been put in place through an agreement with the traders in the county who showed a willingness to forgo some of the promised discount on their rate bills in order to allow the Council to support the establishment of Town Teams in each of the six towns in the county, Plans are being put in place to guide the rejuvenation of each town in the county. The aim is that these plans will positively impact the growth and prosperity of town centres through an increase in local and visitor revenues and in the provision of additional jobs. Each plan will identify priority actions and projects and funding sources to provide for implementation.

Boyle Town Team will also seek the views of the broader public as to what they see as being necessary to restore the town to its former glory. This will be done through the distribution of a questionnaire to local residents. All ideas will be examined and may help towards the formation of a more long-term plan for the town and district. In particular the views of local teenagers are also being welcomed. The goal of Boyle Town Team is to develop community ideas into action for enhancement of the town and district.

The Council has employed the assistance of a professional facilitator, John Higgins of JH Public Affairs to assist with getting the Town Teams up-and-running. John is well known for his work in community enterprise initiatives and will be working again throughout 2016 with the Town Team Programme in order to be available as a mentor who will help bring more medium and long term initiatives into action.

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