Minister Michael Ring TD will today (Sunday) launch the Balla Community Futures Plan. The new 2017-2022 plan looks to build on the progress already made in Balla since their initial participation in the Mayo Community Features programme in 2008.
The new plan looks towards attracting and supporting employment to sustain existing services in the Balla community. It recognizes that the development of entrepreneurial and employment opportunities is essential not only for business, but also for the social development of the area.
Speaking ahead of the launch which takes place at 3pm today, Minister Ring praised the spirit and commitment of the Balla community: “There is a very proactive Community Council in place here which is driving the Balla Community Futures Plan. I wish them the greatest success in delivering this plan over the next five years.
“Having been closely involved in successful tourism initiatives in the county I am glad to see that the Balla Community Futures Plan has a strong focus on capitalising on Balla’s location at the start of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail and link to Knock Shrine. The Plan also recognises the tourism potential of the town based on the range of outdoor and sports facilities they can offer. There is also a strong focus in the plan on encouraging young business people to set up in the area and the community has identified the provision of small business incubation units as crucial to attracting them.
As one of the 30 communities that have participated in the Mayo Community Futures programme since its inception in nine years ago, Balla has achieved many of the economic and social goals it had set itself. Some of the work undertaken in Balla since the beginning of its participation in the Mayo Community Features include improved road safety; better Community Facilities, Activities and Organisations; support for local businesses; and enhancement of the town.
Minister Ring concluded: “As demonstrated by what has been achieved since the launch of the last action plan, Balla is clearly a community that is positive and committed to developing an even brighter future for all of its residents, businesses and visitors. I know that Balla as a community will continue to build on this work and strive to achieve its goals.”
Note for Editors:
The main areas of focus for the 2017-2022 plan are as follows:
- The community is keen to encourage young business people to set up in the area and have identified the provision of small business incubation units as crucial to attracting them
- They also recognise the tourism potential of the town based on the range of outdoor and sports facilities they can offer
- Are keen to capitalise on their location at the start of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail and link to Knock Shrine
- The provision of high speed broadband for all the residents of the area is still high on the list of priorities in relation to services particularly for businesses
- While the village boasts a range of indoor and outdoor community spaces, they do not have a dedicated indoor space for sports activities
- They have also identified that girls drop out of sports activities early and are keen to address this issue and to support the needs of Balla youth
- They also expressed a need for the extension of footpaths and the further provision of cycle paths and lighting
- Maintain the appearance of the village
- Preserve, enhance and promote local heritage
- Examine options for the development of a biodiversity and horticultural project
Some of the work undertaken in Balla since the beginning of its participation in the Mayo Community Features include:
- Upgrading of approach roads, pavements, lighting, speed calming measures and pedestrian crossings have been put in place
Community Facilities, Activities and Organisations
- Provision of children’s playground and MUGA, improved GAA playing facilities and new clubhouse, increased activities and remodelling of the Resource Centre and pre-school facility
- A canteen has been provided in the school, funding secured for a new Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Unit, a new science laboratory and sound proofing for the Sports Hall.
- Improved Garda service, improved student bus links and a new Health Centre has been put in place with a wide range of health services
- The work of the RSS and TÚS schemes continue to make a positive and sustainable contribution the enhancement of the town
- New Post Office opened, ATM in place, The Mart and the Co-operative were refurbished, at least 4 new businesses have opened including a new café, starter business units developed in the Square, the town was chosen as a pilot for a new superfast broadband scheme
Environment, Heritage and Town Enhancement
- Town Park is being developed, new Christmas lights have been provided, work done on painting derelict buildings, the Square has been re developed and parking provided, trees have been planted, the town is more attractive and accessible and ongoing links are being created with the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail.