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Call on Council to ensure plants don’t encroach onto footpaths

Denise McNamara

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Overgrowth from private houses is causing havoc for the elderly and wheelchair users who are being forced from footpaths onto roads to overcome bushes that are growing out of control.

Several residents have contacted the Galway City Tribune about the abnormal growth this summer which is prompting bushes and trees into overdrive.

They are calling on Galway City Council to pursue the owners through the property register to ensure paths and roads are kept clear to avoid endangering the lives of pedestrians.

One homeowner in Renmore said in their estate they had paid for a complete list of property owners and were able to write to landowners to request the proper upkeep of the houses.

However, while such overgrowth was unsightly, it becomes a health and safety issue when it impacted on footpaths, which were under the control of the local authority.

“We’ve solved a lot of our own problems in this estate but these bushes and trees are growing wild all over the city. I got off the bus in Shantalla the other day and there was this huge bush as solid as a rock at least halfway onto the path,” she exclaimed.

“I was thinking of my neighbour who uses a roller to get around. She wouldn’t have been able to get past without having to lift it onto the road and back again and she’s just not able to do that. If somebody is blind they’d walk straight into it and get knocked over. Why don’t the Council take responsibility?”

Another homeowner asked if the council could pursue property owners for derelict buildings, why they were not inclined to do so for out-of-control gardens.

“The property register puts a different light on it all. They now have the knowledge of who owns what – and if they don’t they should be pursuing them for not registering the properties.  There should be a tighter oversight on this as it greatly impacts on the most vulnerable as well as all neighbours.”

A spokesman for Galway City Council said it is the responsibility of tenants and property owners to upkeep their own homes so that it did not detract from the amenity of the area.

“In situations like this, community wardens are on occasion made aware of a failure to maintain properties and if it’s very bad an informal process can be started whereby the landowner can be approached about cleaning up their properties,” he stated.

A similar situation in Belmont Park on the Dublin Road where overgrown grass in an adjacent field was blindsiding motorists was recently highlighted by the Galway City Tribune.

In that case tall weed vegetation was growing at a bend in the road, reducing the entrance road at times to one lane which had caused at least two near collisions.

Following the publicity and an approach from the Council, the grass was promptly cut by the owner.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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