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Connacht Tribune

Councillors criticise city colleagues over traffic seminar snub

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Galway City Council has been accused of “bad manners” by not inviting councillors from the county to a seminar to discuss the current traffic crisis.

The City Council has organised a day long workshop for their own councillors in early January to look at the traffic challenges that exist into the future – but their ‘country cousins’ feel left out.

But the point has been made that the traffic problems in the city are mainly created by the volume of cars that arrive in Galway each day from north and east Galway.

“This is not just a city problem,” declared an angry Cllr Pete Roche at a meeting of Galway County Council when he made reference to the workshop that will take place in the New Year.

The Fine Gael councillor said that there were thousands of motorists who are travelling from the county into the city each morning to go to work and are experiencing immense annoyance and frustrations at the delays being encountered.

This is why he thought that Galway City Council would extend an invitation to the members of Galway County Council who represent the vast majority of motorists who are experiencing the traffic nightmare around the city.

“The traffic chaos that currently exists in Galway doesn’t just affect those who live in the city. It has an impact on the thousands of workers from the county who have to face this nightmare on a daily basis.

“The City Council has organised some sort of a traffic workshop but decided not to invite the county councillors to it. This just smacks of bad manners on their part,” Cllr Roche added.

He said that the traffic chaos in the city affects the whole county and an open invitation should have been made to the councillors representing the areas where the vast majority of workers travel from.

City Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has warned that there will be very difficult decisions to make in the New Year regarding transport in order to overcome the traffic crisis in Galway.

The City Council has organised a day long workshop for their own councillors on January 5 to look at the traffic challenges in advance of the City Centre Transport Management Plan which will come before councillors next month.

Many elements of the plan are listed in the council’s Three Year Capital Programme which was published this week. The programme is the blueprint for developing the city but its elements are aspirational until they are funded.

Officials Uinsinn Finn and Tom Connell said one of the Transport Plan’s main aims is to open up the city centre as a focal point for walking, cycling and public transport, but they stressed this requires substantial funding.

Recently, city councillor Peter Keane organised two public meetings to discuss the future of public transport in Galway. One was organised to discuss what steps could be taken to address the current gridlock while the other focused on the provision of a light rail system for the city.

While several city public representatives were in attendance along with a number of TDs, there was no invite for the rural councillors who believe that they should have an input when it comes to discussing the traffic crisis.

“If anything, the current traffic nightmare has more of an affect on rural motorists than it does on people living in the city,” according to Cllr Pete Roche.

Connacht Tribune

Fuel for thought as we try and energise our wheels

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

A good few years back . . . well probably even decades . . . I remember asking quite a knowledgeable motoring correspondent, long gone to his eternal reward, about the pros and cons of staying with petrol or switching to diesel. By the time his reply had finished, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, and I was avalanched with so much data that I was no wiser at the end of the conversation than I was at the start.

I thought of that a few weeks before Christmas when I happened to tune in to a programme on Channel 4 – Dispatches – which examined the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car across the roads of the United Kingdom.

There is a wish amongst all of us to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life. At this stage, we all probably know someone who has purchased a fully electric car and certainly many more who have dipped their toes into the waters of the hybrid models.

Anyway, the main theme of the Dispatches programme was that after 10-years of investment by the UK authorities in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars, quite a shocking number of charging points were either out of action or were not working to their full efficiency.

Nearly 10% of the ‘rapid chargers’ sampled across the UK were found not to be working properly, while 30 new ultra-rapid charges were also found to be dysfunctional to varying degrees. Some of the charging points had been out of action for six years and a percentage of those were unrepairable as their technology base was now obsolete.

Apart from their significant extra cost – even if one qualifies for the maximum €5,000 Government grant – the great fear I would have with the electric cars is that I’d find myself marooned in a corner of Kerry or Antrim, out of ‘juice’, and unable to access a charging point.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or  HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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