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Connacht Tribune

Council seeks ‘turn key’ properties to reduce housing list

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Builders in County Galway are being encouraged to embark on housing developments that can be bought up by the local authority in a desperate effort to solve the homeless crisis.

Galway County Council have issued a notice welcoming developers who are willing to provide ‘turn-key’ houses for the authority who want to rent them out to suitable applicants.

And the Council has now reawakened developers who may not have considered embarking on housing developments in the current environment given that it is not affordable to do so.

Because, despite demand, it costs more to develop a new house than the market will deliver.

But Galway County Council are now anxious to get builders back doing what they do best – building houses. And they want to buy them.

The Council have placed a notice seeking to purchase houses through turnkey developments across Galway. They are seeking expressions of interest from developers in this regard.

They want developers and building contractors who are in a position to deliver houses to make contact with them and who are in a position to provide houses within a reasonable timescale.

Galway County Council also want developers who have completed houses or apartments at their disposal to contact them as well.

The local authority is encouraging expressions of interest from those who are in possession of completed houses or those who plan to embark on housing development in a desperate effort to address the current housing crisis.

They say that completed houses must be compliant with various Department requirements and must suit a variety of requirements such as location, suitability, value for money, timescale for delivery and quality of design for the occupants.

Such is the lack of private rental accommodation across County Galway that when the local authority sought expressions of interest from property owners to make vacant dwellings available, there was just one response – and even this was deemed unsuitable.

Galway County Council have revealed that, at present, a total of 65 families and individuals are registered as homeless with the local authority.

Director of Housing Michael Owens also confirmed to The Connacht Tribune that a total of eleven families – made up of 17 adults and 39 children – along with seven individuals are currently in private emergency accommodation across the county.

The fact that there is currently a massive scramble for student accommodation, with third level colleges only weeks from re-opening, means that the Council’s efforts to find suitable accommodation for the homeless are made even more difficult.

Recently, Galway County Council placed a public notice asking property owners across the county to open their doors to individuals and families seeking emergency accommodation.

The County Council were seeking expressions of interest from property owners in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Oranmore and Tuam. The local authority said they would consider entering agreements with house owners on a full property, room only or self-catering basis.

The Council are now redoubling their efforts to get suitable accommodation by looking for turn-key developments across Galway to fulfil their housing needs.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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