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Council hasn’t paid for land 13 years on

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Four of the five owners of the derelict Menlo Castle site by the banks of the River Corrib have yet to be paid by Galway City Council despite the issuing of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) 13 years ago.

The site was purchased by the local authority for an ill-fated €12 million project which would have transformed the historic 17th century building, while allowing a Dublin-based businessman, Noel Smyth, to build a luxury penthouse on the top floor.

Those plans have since been abandoned and the businessman’s private art collection, set to be offered to the Council as part of the revamp ‘deal’, has since been seized by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA).

Four families have been waiting for financial compensation from the local authority since they sat through a full public inquiry into the issuing of the CPOs at the Menlo Park Hotel in July 2000.

A number of those involved in the hearing have since passed away and their families’ anger has been compounded by confirmation that the majority shareholder, businessman John Coyle, has received his CPO funding from the City Council.

Five owners were named in the original CPO in 2000 – Mr Coyle, who owned 12/16ths of the site; Michael O’Connell, Coolough; and Padraic Fahy, John and Marie Maloney, and Tom (Peter) Connell, of Menlo village.

The beneficiaries of the deceased land-holders’ wills are understood to be irate that it has taken so long to receive financial compensation.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG), whose brother holds a sixteenth share of the castle grounds, told the Galway City Tribune yesterday that a full-scale inquiry should be held into the cost of the ill-fated project.

A spokesman for Galway City Council confirmed that Mr Coyle was the only one of the landowners to have received compensation under the CPOs.

But he said that the local authority is “currently finalising payments” with the remaining shareholders under the CPO scheme.

He said Mr Coyle was paid ahead of the local landowners because his documentation was in order.

 The castle has been derelict since a fire gutted the building in 1910.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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 City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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