Back–of–envelope parking plan puts pressure on pact

Galway politicians Noel Grealish, Niall McNelis, and Billy Cameron enjoying a day out at Croker on Sunday in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final, but who drew the short straw – Noel or Billy?

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Creaks are again beginning to appear in the ruling pact on Galway City Council, as elected members feel the heat about their rash decision to charge for parking on Sundays.

Last November, the clever clogs in the ruling pact (Fine Gael, Labour and Independents) – as is their right – shot down the budget put forward by Edel McCormack, Head of Finance, and Chief Executive of the Council, Brendan McGrath.

Though it’s Edel and Brendan’s job to prepare the budget, councillors thought they knew best. Don’t they always?

So, they voted through an alternative budget, which included the introduction of Sunday parking charges, against the wishes of businesses.

And by ‘they’ we mean the ‘wise ones’ in the ruling rainbow coalition: Fine Gael (Pádraig Conneely, Frank Fahy, Pearce Flannery and John Walsh), Labour (Niall McNelis and Billy Cameron), and Independents (Mike ‘I’m not joining Fianna Fáil’ Cubbard, Terry O’Flaherty, Declan McDonnell, Donal Lyons and Noel Larkin).

The wise ones decided that introducing Sunday parking at Council car parks would bring in an additional €170,000 per year.

Whose posterior they plucked this figure from is not known, but it was clearly balderdash.

They then divvied up this “extra” money to different organisations, many of which had lobbied them not to have their grants cut.

Edel and Brendan’s budget had proposed that the annual stipend to the likes of Galway Volunteer Centre and Galway Civic Trust would be reduced. Councillors couldn’t take the flak and voted through an alternative that introduced Sunday parking charges while maintaining the 2016 level of grants to organisations.

The €170,000 figure for income generated by Sunday parking was policy made up on the hoof, during a Council meeting, and was based on the measure being brought in immediately, from January.

That was never going to happen. And so here we are in August, the new tax is introduced seven months late, and the Council is short of seven months’ Sunday parking income.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.