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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council not offering cash incentives to letting agents

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Galway City Council has not followed the lead of local authorities in Dublin, where letting agents are to be given financial incentives to rent housing to homeless families in emergency accommodation.

Last week, it was revealed that Dublin’s four local authorities, under the auspices of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), have begun paying letting agencies a €500 fee in return for every Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenant that moves into a property on their books.

A spokesperson for the Council told the Galway City Tribune that they do not provide a placement fee in order to secure a tenancy for homeless families.

“A deposit and up to two months’ rent payment in advance can be provided to any landlord/agent on behalf of homeless clients, under the Homeless HAP Place Finder Service Circular in order to secure a tenancy.

“This resource was made available in all 31 local authorities on the 19th January 2018 after having been piloted in Dublin Local Authorities and Cork City Council.

“The service was introduced to assist homeless households in securing accommodation where the high demand and low levels of supply make the rental market very challenging,” said the spokesperson.

Since the scheme was unveiled, there has been some criticism levelled against the Department of Housing as landlord representatives accused the State of undermining trust between landlords and their agents – fearing the move would influence any decision over who a property should be leased to.

Local councillor Pádraig Conneely echoed these concerns and said it was only right that Galway City Council didn’t immediately follow-suit.

“I think this is something that has been bounced off us very quickly and it needs to be looked at a bit more closely before any action is taken.

“More research needs to be done and the real impact of introducing a scheme like this has to be considered,” said the Fine Gael councillor.

Meanwhile, the most recent figures show that 304 people were homeless in the Western Region between the months of July and September.

In Galway, there were 46 families in private emergency accommodation, with a further 13 in ‘transitional’ accommodation in the city.

Both the Fairgreen Hostel and Osterley Lodge were at capacity, catering for 26 men and 13 women respectively.

The Cold Weather Response to homelessness for winter 2018 will be operational from November 26 and this year, there will be 30 beds available shared over two locations on the west side of the city.

Some 4,027 applicants remained on Galway City Council’s housing waiting list at the end of September.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction

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Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags

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Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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