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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council buys €1m B&B to transform into ‘homeless hub’

Dara Bradley

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A guesthouse in Newcastle has been acquired by Galway City Council to provide a roof over the heads of a dozen homeless families.

The local authority paid just over €1 million to purchase Corrib Haven B&B on Upper Newcastle Road. The 464 square metre property has recently been refurbished by the Council and it will soon be home to 12 families.

It comprises a sitting room, dining room, conservatory, kitchen, utility, and four bedrooms with en suite bathrooms on the ground floor; eight bedrooms with en suite bathrooms on the first-floor; and three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms in the attic.

The facility needs modifications including fit-out and fire safety works to ensure it complies with regulations. The Council expects the home to be open in late December or early January 2019. It will go to tender soon to procure a homeless service provider to run the facility. The capital cost of the acquisition is being funded by the Department of Housing.

Patricia Philbin, Director of Services for Housing, said the new facility will be used to house families who are currently living in emergency accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.

“Once operational, it is intended to move existing families out of hotel arrangements as quickly as possible, and to limit the extent to which such accommodation has to be used for new presentations. The costs incurred in providing private emergency accommodation (in Galway City) have risen substantially in recent years from around €300,000 in 2016 to an estimated €1.2 million in 2018. The provision of a Family Hub will reduce dependence on hotels and B&Bs while reducing the significant costs that arise,” said Ms Philbin.

She added that in August of this year there were more than 50 families accommodated on behalf of the City Council in hotels and B&Bs and that figure was expected to rise in the coming months.

Labour Party councillor Billy Cameron said the people of Newcastle will welcome the new families to the area.

Cllr Cameron said a ‘Family Hub’ is a facility which provides emergency accommodation but where residents have access to communal facilities including kitchens, play areas for children, full laundry facilities, rooms for visiting supports and meeting room facilities.

“There is no dignity for homeless people living in hotels and B&Bs and this is about giving back some dignity,” said Cllr Cameron.

“I believe we should live and let live and that this Family Hub will be welcomed by the people of Newcastle, in order to help to alleviate the homeless crisis in our city. It won’t solve it but it is a help and a stop-gap. During the winter months, COPE Galway, the homeless charity, has its winter initiative for homeless and it is based on Seamus Quirke Road. There are absolutely no problems with that facility and there is no anti-social behaviour associated with it and so I see no reason why people should be concerned about this new home for homeless families,” added Cllr Cameron.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City businesses determined to weather lockdown storm

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Despite devastation for city businesses this week amid a return to lockdown, many remain determined to weather the storm – and with the Council’s approval this week of additional measures to entice people to the city centre when restrictions ease, there is a hope that a good Christmas could save them.

Level 5 restrictions which came into force on yesterday (Thursday) have forced ‘unessential’ retailers to close their doors once again in an attempt by Government to get a handle on spiralling numbers of Covid-19.

And while those affected, mainly in the retail and hospitality sectors, are facing huge challenges to keep their heads above water, they had to remain positive that all was not lost if coronavirus could be got under control over the next six weeks.

Anthony Ryan, of the Galway City Business Association, said that while closing their clothes shops had been hugely disappointing, he had to remain optimistic.

“We just have to stay going and remain positive. Our clothes division is non-essential so that is temporarily closed, in line with the Government guidelines. Items necessary for households are essential so that means our home store remains open.

“Business had recovered quite well by September, but once Level 3 was introduced, there was a big fall off for everybody,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Many businesses, including his own, had made huge strives to improve their online offering in recent months and it was his hope that people would continue to support local when they shopped online, even if they couldn’t get in to the physical stores.

“Online sales continue to be very strong. We hope to have our fashion website up in a couple of weeks, so there has been a lot of work going into that in the background,” said Mr Ryan.

Meanwhile, councillors this week backed a plan that will result in an overhaul of traffic flow in the city core – transforming Middle Street into a shared-surface and eliminating all cars not owned by residents on the street – ruling out full pedestrianisation due to residents’ requirements.
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

Plan for new cross-city public transport corridor go on display

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is hopeful that a proposed new public transport corridor – linking the western and eastern suburbs through the city centre – could be ready to go for planning permission next year.

This week, a six-week public consultation process began on the ‘Cross-City Link’.

The Council is hopeful that a planning application could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála next year, and if approved, it would take 12-18 months to construct.

The Cross-City Link begins at the junction of University Road and Newcastle Road and continues across the Salmon Weir Bridge, through St Vincent’s Avenue, St Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Eyre Square, Forster Street, College Road and on to the Dublin Road.

“Through traffic, with no specific destination in the city centre, will be diverted,” the City Council said.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Engineer with the Council said: “This corridor will connect homes with places of work, study, retail and recreation, with improved public transport journey times and reliability.

“High-quality public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities and public transport priority will be provided, making it easier to move through the city, and to access destinations by sustainable means.

“This will create a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired, and public transport services will move more freely. Deliveries and access to carparks will be facilitated, as will access to homes or businesses.

“The Council invites the public, landowners and other stakeholders to review the proposals, and to share their feedback,” said Mr Finn.

He said that schemes such as the new corridor are key projects and are “essential” to keeping the city moving.

“They are key to supporting sustainable travel modes and to support the ambitious targets for Galway as set out in the National Development Plan,” Mr Finn added.

He said it is anticipated the proposal can be submitted for planning consent next year, and subject to permission being granted, it would take 12-18 months to complete.
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

Pilot initiative will restrict car traffic around Galway City school

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have backed a proposal to restrict car traffic around Scoil Iognáid on Raleigh Row as part of a ‘School Streets’ pilot project.

The initiative, which involves a time-specific curtailment on cars at school drop-off and pick-up times, will result in the pedestrianisation of Raleigh Row, Palmyra Park and Palmyra Avenue – closed to traffic from 8.15am to 9.15am; and 1.15pm to 2.45pm.

Due to start on November 2, residents in the area will still be allowed access, but have been asked to “avoid using their car during the periods of pedestrianisation”, while those with blue badges will also be permitted to drive in the area.

Signage indicating the restrictions will be erected, while Gardaí and community wardens will enforce the pedestrianisation and parking respectively.

‘Park and Stride’ will be encouraged for getting children to school when no alternative is available, whereby parents park a short distance from the school and finish the remainder of the journey by foot – with registration enabling city school-goers’ parents to park for free in over 20 car parks.

Arlene Finn of the City Council’s Transport Department told councillors that 145 parents at Scoil Iognáid had already registered for this initiative, and by introducing the School Streets programme, the area would become infinitively safer and more appealing to parents and children wishing to walk or cycle to school.
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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