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Council to dump bin collection business

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Galway’s new City Manager is bracing himself for his first major battle in the job when he announces his controversial decision on Monday to privatise the city’s household refuse collection service.

A number of councillors have already said they will oppose any move by Galway City Council to pull out of the waste disposal operation and put it out for tender to be privatised.

In only his second City Council meeting, City Manager, Brendan McGrath, will be met with strong opposition to his decision following a review of the waste disposal services.

Though that decision hadn’t been announced officially by yesterday evening, it is almost certain that it will mean the end of the Council-operated service.

It cost the Council €4.5 million to operate last year with an income of €2.8 million leaving them with a shortfall of €1.7 million, which includes €500,000 to cover the waiver scheme for 2,400 households.

Galway is the last urban council in the country to be operating a bin collection and the move to privatise was exclusively revealed in the Galway City Tribune three weeks ago – customers have fallen from 22,000 nine years ago to just under 11,000 last year, of which about 20% are non-paying waiver customers.

It’s within the City Manager’s executive remit to make a decision on it without any input from elected councillors and, though he hadn’t disclosed his decision by yesterday, some councillors have already thrown down the gauntlet and vowed to fight this all the way. It is believed the decision will be revealed to councillors at Monday’s meeting of Galway City Council.

 Councillor Catherine Connolly has asked councillors to stand together and ensure that the city’s ‘exemplary’ public refuse collection service was not undermined by management for short-term gain and said that any proposal by the City Manager to privatise the refuse service would be challenged.

The main objection to the privatisation of the service is the threat to the waiver scheme which provides either a free or reduced charge refuse collection to pensioners, the unemployed and people in receipt of social welfare.

 Mayor of Galway, Cllr Pádraig Conneely said that the customer loss was no longer making it viable for the Council to run the service, though he said he, too, was concerned about the waiver scheme.

 “Since new waste operators came into the city, prices have become very competitive and we have been losing customers at such a rate that the Council couldn’t compete.

Galway City Council declined to make a comment.

What do you think? Vote in our readers’ poll here.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
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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