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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council tenants are facing rent hikes

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Galway City Council is to raise the rent for its almost 3,000 Council house tenants on July 1st.

This rent increase, according to Sinn Féin, will affect those who are amongst the poorest people in the city and whose payments from social welfare are spent every week on the increasing cost of living.

“I call on the City Council to immediately address this unfair increase and to make its reversal a priority”, said Mark Lohan, Sinn Féin Area Representative for Galway City Central.

“There is much fanfare about a left-leaning rainbow pact in City Hall, but this first action on the part of the new Council is one of the most reactionary and cruel blows to working class people in our city”, said Mark Lohan, who lost his seat in May’s local election.

“While all recent attention seems to be on mayors and chairs and who occupies what preferred post, no consideration has been paid to the effect of the rent increase on our most vulnerable citizens in the city,” he said.

The Sinn Féin representative said that in the current rent scheme a Council tenant on a Disability Allowance of €203 pays €30.80 per week from that payment to the Council for rent. This is based on a formula that discounts the first €49 of income and then charges 20% of the remaining income.

Under the new formula from July 1 that tenant will pay €35. This is based on the new rental scheme of 17% of all income (rounded up to the nearest euro).

This formula will also apply to those on Jobseekers’ Allowance and those on the State pension. “These fellow Galway citizens use all of their income to live and are not in a position to earn more money. To reach into their pockets and handbags and take out €5 per week will have a negative impact on them. I know people who face fuel poverty each Winter who are in this position and the rent increase will only increase that hardship.

“Our Council housing stock is under constant need for maintenance and upgrading, to raise the rent on tenants before any of these upgrades and necessary repairs happen only adds insult to injury,” said Mr Lohan.

The new scheme also provides for no maximum rent figure and gives the Council the new power to charge extra rent for “servicing boilers etc”.

“The servicing of boilers has always been the responsibility of the landlord and to pass the cost to the tenant is wrong. This loosely defined, new, additional charge system leaves the tenant open to future charges by the Council.

“The new rent scheme is unfair and will result in increased poverty levels for our most vulnerable city council tenants. If this is a sign of the new order in city hall it bodes ill for working class citizens all across our city,” added the SIPTU trade union representative.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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