The Office of Public Works has warned Galway City Council that time is critical in developing new welfare offices in the Webworks building at the Fairgreen.
And it has rejected a request by planners to include a restaurant in the premises, claiming it would be “unused and unsustainable”.
The agency is seeking planning permission to use the entire office space in the building as a Department of Social Protection ‘Intreo’ office – a single location for all employment and income support services.
“It is a key priority of Government that a further eighteen centres will be operating by end 2014 and the Galway office proposed for the Webworks building will centralize all social welfare facilities and services in a single location. Time is critical in delivering this project on the ground by year-end 2014,” the OPW said.
As part of the plans, planning permission is required for a change of use of a mezzanine level in the building from restaurant (associated with the coach station on the ground floor).
However, the Council said the owner of the building should reconsider omitting the restaurant, as it would leave the bus station without any hospitality facilities.
“The proposed existing vacant mezzanine level is to be enclosed and dedicated to the new public offices. However, when originally granted by the City Council this was to have been a café restaurant for the new bus station.
“It appears that the coffee dock and sweet/newspaper kiosk which were to have formed part of the bus station development have not been provided either.
“The additional deficit of the restaurant would leave the bus station with no hospitality facilities at all to service the travelling public,” planners said.
The OPW has responded, and rejected the need for a restaurant within the office element of the building.
“There is clear evidence to confirm that the users of the coach station require speedy low-cost refreshments rather than full restaurant facilities which are otherwise available in abundance in the immediate vicinity of Eyre Square and along Forster Street.
“Market research has confirmed that a restaurant at mezzanine level would be unused and commercially unsustainable. It should be noted that the restaurant has never been occupied since the development of the Webworks building, due to lack of operator interest.
“The current owner plans to install three kiosks for this purpose and to more than double the seating (capacity 160) within the new expanded ground floor of the coach station. This enhanced facility will more readily and efficiently meet the requirements of the travelling public and other users and does not depend on securing a restaurant operator,” the OPW said.
A decision is due on the application at the beginning of September.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.