Town Team Chair critical of Strokestown plan

‘We need a local hub not a redesign’

Steve Wintergill, Chairperson of the Strokestown Town Team. Pic: Kieran Croghan

The Chairperson of Strokestown Town Team has called for a community hub to be installed in the town owing to the number of voluntary groups currently in operation in the area.

Steve Wintersgill also described proposed Town First plans for Strokestown as “awful” and said there had been a lack of any meaningful consultation with local residents and retailers.

Speaking to the Roscommon People, the Essex native said: “This is my opinion of course and not necessarily that of the Town Team, but I think the plans are awful to be quite honest.

“The impression I get is that there’s no consultation been done with the people who it directly affects and the feeling is that it was just sprung on them, which is not the way to win hearts and minds.

“There was a meeting of the residents of stakeholders on Church Street and Bawn Street recently and to be fair, I agreed with pretty much everything that was said.

“At a previous meeting, when the Council launched the plans, some of the justifications for the changes were very weak. A lot of the parking is going to disappear from Church Street and access to spaces will also be blocked.

“They said it was because it was an accident blackspot, which raises the question…how many accidents have there been there in the last ten years?”

Steve says he’s sceptical of the reasons behind the proposals and believes funding should be spent on something more ‘tangible’.

“What we really need is a community building that all our various community groups can use. The Men’s Shed have a spot out the back of Martin’s Guesthouse now which is fine but I don’t think the Women’s Shed has a premises,” he said.

“The Tidy Towns also (need a space) because any activities that are planned need to be done in the space of an afternoon so that everything is cleared away after and stored somewhere else.

“We’ve got plenty of space. We’ve got big wide open streets…so it should be possible to set up a small open space for people to use outside or in one of the many empty buildings”.
Steve also believes an ‘opening up’ of the end of Bawn Street close to the Strokestown Park gates would help bring the Famine Museum and Strokestown Park closer to the town.

As for outdoor events such as the very popular Christmas markets, Steve has a rather novel idea which he says will bring tourists flocking to the area.

“There’s one event I’m trying to get off the ground, which people certainly roll their eyes at. Then they go home and take a look on YouTube and think it’s actually quite a good idea,” he explains.

“You see there’s a pub in Lancashire called the Rose ‘N’ Bowl and every year they host the World Gravy Wrestling Championships. It’s basically a big inflatable pool with people in fancy dress wrestling for two minutes to entertain the crowd. It’s for charity and the local fire brigade come out and hose everyone down afterwards”.

Steve says the unique event attracts hundreds of people to the town of Stacksteads and a similar novelty event would prove a hit in Strokestown.

“It’s never been done before…think about it. The inaugural All-Ireland Gravy Wrestling Championships,” he said.

As recently floated plans for Strokestown go, Steve’s gravy wrestling championships might be the best way of solving the current impasse between some in the local community and Roscommon County Council!