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Bypass delay could lead to withdrawal of State funding

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Councillors have been warned that Galway may lose funding for the proposed bypass if they attempt to delay the route selection process.

The warning came from Acting City Chief Executive Joe O’Neill, after motions were put forward to stall the process and to exclude certain areas from route selection.

“Stopping or delaying the process now will make congestion worse and will impede economic development. Funding for [for the bypass] will be spent somewhere else,” said Mr O’Neill.

Just one councillor present, Noel Larkin (Ind), approved of the current route selection process, and said that if any motions to stall it were passed, it would be to the detriment of the city.

Meanwhile, legal opinion is to be sought by councillors on whether a ‘loophole’ can be exploited to exclude lands at Galway Racecourse, NUI Galway and in Menlo from the route selection process.

At a meeting of the local authority this week, four motions (and amendments to those motions) were put forward by councillors on the bypass plans, including one from Fine Gael’s John Walsh, who said a variation should be made to the City Development Plan, whereby lands at Galway Racecourse and NUIG be “excluded from any current or future proposals to develop road infrastructure in the city”.

An amendment to that motion from his party colleague Frank Fahy said that the Menlo village envelope (including a 500 metre exclusion zone), and Coolough, Castlegar and Briarhill also be excluded.

“If we make a variation excluding these locations, they’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” said Cllr Walsh.

However, Mr O’Neill said he had serious reservations about the motions, as the preferred route is set to be announced by the end of April.

He explained that the time period involved in drawing up a variation to the Development Plan, putting it on public display and approving it meant any variation would not be approved before the end of April.

“[On Cllr Walsh’s motion] the legal and practically implications are serious and would be contrary to the strategic objectives of the Development Plan,” said Mr O’Neill.

He added that such a motion would undermine the bypass selection process and therefore the entire project would have to be called into question.

“This is too important. It’s a very challenging and difficult situation. Nobody set out to upset people. Six different groups of people are understandably upset.

“There is no solution that doesn’t involve some negative impacts. When the Quincentenary Bridge was built, a number of homes were demolished. A solution to our problems is urgently needed. We have to have another crossing of the river. This will remove a significant barrier to the economic development of the city,” said Mr O’Neill.

He explained that the European ruling on the original bypass stated that all alternatives had to be looked at, and such a motion would block the alternative.

“You will actually be seen to be actively undermining the process. That motion is probably ultra vires [beyond your powers] – I would strongly recommend it is not adopted,” he said.

Separate motions from Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) and Catherine Connolly (Ind) called for the route selection process to be halted, while a joint motion from councillors Declan McDonnell, Donal Lyons and Terry O’Flaherty (Independents) called on the consultants to re-examine the routes and prioritise human habitat over wildlife and Special Areas of Conservation.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said the proposals as they stand are unworkable.

“This is not an outer bypass, it’s an inner-city transport project. This is having a damaging effect on communities, amenities and tourism in all areas as well as businesses and the environment. It wasn’t researched well enough. There were 1,000 submissions sent to the NRA,” said Cllr Conneely.

Cllr McDonnell said he understood the brief for route design was to take traffic out of the city, not bring it back in.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said the process was the most undemocratic thing he had seen happen in the city.

“If you gave a child six markers, they could come up with better proposals than this. It’s creating absolute pandemonium among the people,” he said.

Cllr Connolly said it was quite clear that the elected members have no power, but they did have moral power and asked her colleagues to put politics aside and to look at more sustainable long-term solutions to traffic.

It was agreed to defer all motions until March 23, when councillors will hold a special meeting on the bypass.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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