Galway City Council has been lambasted by councillors for starting landscape work on the “disgraceful” roundabouts in July in the middle of the tourist high season.
There was a succession of complaints about the state of the roundabouts at a meeting of Galway City Council. Councillor Frank Fahy (FG) declared them to be in the worst condition of any roundabouts in Ireland.
Independent Councillor Terry O’Flaherty said work on the Skerritt roundabout opposite the GMIT, but it was very late in the season to begin the maintenance programme.
She pointed to the Oranmore roundabout which was under the control of Galway County Council. It was kept so immaculately in winter and summer it resembled a golf course, she enthused.
However, she praised the grass cutting across the city’s parks and open spaces in estates, which was the best it had been for a long time.
New machinery purchased by the council was ensuring that it was being carried out property, she claimed. This was echoed by Sinn Féin Cllr Cathal O’Conchúir who believed a lot of the complaints about the grass cutting were trivial, pointing out the Council had to cover a huge amount of acreage.
Fellow independent, Cllr Declan McDonnell said it was not a lawnmower that was needed for the Martin Roundabout opposite the Galway Clinic but a JCB. He recalled how a motorist had crashed into the middle of it and died, remaining undiscovered for two weeks until being spotted by somebody in a double decker bus.
Sinn Féin’s Mairéad Farrell said this roundabout was a traffic hazard. “I pass by it several times a day. It’s so high, I can’t see over it.”
Labour Councillor Billy Cameron said it was housing that was the biggest crux in the city.
“Families ending up homeless, adults couch surfing, that’s much more important to me than seeing roses on the roundabouts.”
The Director of Services for Transportation, Recreation, Amenity and Corporate Services, Tom Connell, said in an email to councillors on the day of the meeting that the local authority tendered out the maintenance work in two separate contracts for the 11 roundabouts due to the landscaping requirements and the need for traffic management on high speed roads.
The Council also sought tenders for grass cutting on the approach roads and grass margins.
Tenders were advertised in April and May and then had to be assessed. Negotiations were then undertaken with Council unions “as a number of issues had arisen”.
Once these were ironed out, the grass cutting work on the roundabouts kicked off at night on July 10.
City Chief Executive Officer Brendan McGrath said while he shared some of the councillors’ frustrations, it was wrong to be using phrases like “Galway is in a shambles”.
He said since the Council invested in new equipment, never has there been so few complaints from residents at estates or those who used playing pitches.
“We were using some equipment dating back to 2002. There was no investment since the recession,” he revealed.
He said the council had undergone a negotiation with staff over contracting out the work as the local authority was unable to comply with the health and safety requirements on the higher speed roundabouts. This involved some compensation to workers.
In other local authority areas, grass in estates was not cut by the Council, yet in Galway it was common practice, he said.