Council overwhelmed by number of ‘beach’ bylaw submissions

Skateboarding or roller skating in public may be outlawed in Galway if tough new bylaws are adopted.

Draft bylaws proposed by Galway City Council for parks, beaches and open spaces will remain on hold until at least September – with the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) tasked with considering submissions on the laws unable to reach on them at their last meeting.

Due to a full agenda, the SPC for Environment, Recreation and Amenity deferred the mammoth task of sifting through 371 submissions to their next quarterly meeting in September.

The draft bylaws were revealed by the Galway City Tribune in September 2016 and following their publication, the Council was flooded with objections from the public.

Some of the proposed regulations include a ban on picking flowers, climbing trees, horse riding on beaches – as well as the curtailing of cycling, rollerblading or skateboarding on the Prom and in public parks.

Member of the SPC, Cllr Donal Lyons, said that while the draft regulations that were made public included some “off the wall” recommendations, there is a need for the bylaws.

“At the moment, there are no rules or regulations for any of the open areas under the jurisdiction of Galway City Council and therein lies a problem.

“The draft should have been tweaked before they went out but, then again, this brought a lot of comment and because people were animated, they got involved with the process,” said Cllr Lyons.

Of the 371 submissions, one of the most contentious issues was that of dog control which is dealt with in a specific section of the bylaws on animals.

The draft proposal states: “No person shall take into or allow to remain in a park or open space any dog unless it is on a leash”.

This and five other proposals in relation to canines drew some 219 individual submissions including claims that dogs need to be able to run free to get a decent level of exercise.

Further to this, assertions are made that the breed of a dog does not define its behaviour and calls were made for a designated area for dogs in the city as well as a City Council-led educational programme.

In relation to the ban on tree climbing, submissions centred on the “alienation of the public” and said that children need “to explore the natural world and should be encouraged to climb and engage with nature”.

The proposal to ban horse riding from beaches in the City Council’s jurisdiction was criticised as being contradictory of Fáilte Ireland campaigns that promote the practice on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Cllr Lyons said that all of these submissions will be given due consideration and that the final document to emerge will be representative of what the majority of the population want.

“The bylaws will encompass what most people want which is to enjoy the facilities we have.

“To my mind, this is so the recreational facilities provided by Galway City Council can be enjoyed by one and all and when a small minority of people want to go against this, at least we’ll be able to protect people from anti-social behaviour,” he said.

Cllr Lyons said that the most important thing would be to ensure that the bylaws that are decided upon would be enforceable – citing the failed dogs on beaches bylaw as an example of a law that isn’t implemented.

“All you have to do is go down to Salthill and you see dogs on the beaches before 8pm and they are not supposed to be.

“You have to bring in laws that can be enforced and a lot of what was included in the draft bylaws will not be in the final draft,” said Cllr Lyons.