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Councillors to have no say in key merger plan

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It has emerged that elected representatives will not be involved in the decision making process for the amalgamation of Galway’s two local authorities and the extension of  the city boundaries.

This will infuriate local councillors in particular – the vast majority of whom are totally opposed to the merger of Galway City Council and Galway County Council.

A four-person review group has been asked to examine the potential for a merger between Galway City and County Councils.

The independent statutory committee, headed by Galway native Trinity College Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, has also been asked to examine the possibility of including Barna, Oranmore and Moycullen as part of Galway city.

But it has been confirmed that while councillors can make individual submissions, they have no hand, act or part in the decision making process.

The review group will meet will officials from Galway City Council and Galway County Council over the coming weeks – but they will not be engaging with councillors.

The group is also made up of businessman John Coyle, former Tipperary County Manager Ned Gleeson and Hannah Kiely, who is a well known local financial advisor.

But a senior official with Galway County Council confirmed that the group have had one meeting and would be meeting with senior officials from both local authorities over the coming weeks.

The public are also being invited to make submissions on both matters and they will have until the end of March to do so.

Elected representatives will have no input into the decision-making apart from availing of the opportunity to make submissions like the rest of the public.

The committee is due to report back with recommendations to Environment Minister Alan Kelly within nine months. It will then be subject to a ministerial order.

His predecessor Phil Hogan had categorically ruled out a merger between the two local authorities earlier in the lifetime of this Coalition.

But recently, in a policy u-turn, Minister Kelly said the proposal to merge merited consideration again. “The ambition of this is to create a stronger Galway”, he remarked.

Councillors in both Galway city and the county have come out against any such suggestion. It could mean that a merged council would have 57 members which would be totally unmanageable.

At the moment works are taking place at county buildings in Prospect Hill to provide additional accommodation for an extra nine councillors following last May’s local election. It is a very expensive project.

If the two councils were merged, then they would have to extend again to accommodate the 18 city councillors.

However, there are other councillors who believe that the amalgamation would save a considerable amount of money that could go into the provision of vital services like roads and transportation.

CITY TRIBUNE

Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill as event confirmed

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Car enthusiasts say they have “every right” to use Salthill this weekend as an event has been announced for Sunday.

It’s been confirmed by organisers on social media – who say they’re being unfairly portrayed in a negative light.

In a statement, the Galway Car Scene group say they pay road tax like all other road users – and they have “every right” to be in Salthill this weekend.

It comes as they’ve confirmed the event will be taking place there on Sunday as originally planned.

They add it’s unfair to accuse them of blocking up Salthill and other parts of the city given the chronic traffic issues every day of the week.

They’ve also created an online petition calling for a designated place for car enthusiasts to go – which has so far gathered almost 250 signatures.

It claims the car enthusiast community in Galway has been unfairly painted as a negative and anti-social group.

The group say they’re happy to go elsewhere, but say any time they try to find a venue they’re shut out.

The event planned for Sunday has encountered significant opposition, much of which is based on a previous “Salthill Sundays” event held in May.

Those opposed say they’re not against an event of this kind in principle – but they strongly feel that Salthill just isn’t the right venue.

It’s also argued that if the organisers want to be taken seriously, they have to engage with stakeholders like Galway City Council and Gardaí to ensure a well-planned and safe event.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Cars down to one-way system on Salthill Promenade

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A one-way system of traffic may be introduced along the Promenade in Salthill to facilitate the introduction of temporary cycle lanes.

The suggestion appeared to come as a shock to some City Council members who supported the cycle lane in a vote last month – one has called for a “full discussion again” on what exactly they had actually approved.

Councillors had voted 17-1 in favour of the principle of providing a cycleway that will stretch from Grattan Road all along the Prom.

The motion that passed at the September meeting proposed that the Council “shall urgently seek” to create a two-way segregated cycle track on a temporary basis along the coastal side of the Prom.

It was agreed that from the Blackrock Tower junction to the Barna Road would be a one-way cycle track.

The motion was voted on without debate, which meant Council officials did not have an opportunity to question the proposal.

At a meeting on Monday, the debate was revisited when Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Transportation, indicated that a one-way traffic system would be introduced in Salthill to facilitate a two-way cycle lane from Grattan Road to Blackrock.

This could mean that the outbound lane of traffic, closest to the sea, could be closed to all traffic bar bikes.

Mr Finn said that he would have sought clarity at the previous meeting – if debate were allowed – about what was meant by ‘temporary’.

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 Christmas Market gets go-ahead for next month

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – It’s the first real sign of a restoration of normality in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors in the city – the return of the Christmas Market next month to Eyre Square.

This week, the City Council’s planning department gave the go-ahead for the outdoor retail and gourmet food ‘spread’ that has been part of the festive season in Galway since 2010.

The exception was last year when, like so many other public gatherings since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020, the event had to be cancelled because of public health concerns.

Christmas Market Organiser, Maria Moynihan Lee, Managing Director of Milestone Inventive, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that she had received official confirmation on Thursday from the City Council of the go-ahead being given for the event.

“This is really wonderful news for the city and especially so in terms of the retail and hospitality sectors. For every €1 spent at the market another €3 will be spent on the high street – this will be a real boost for Galway,” she said.

Maria Moynihan Lee confirmed that the market would have an earlier than usual start of Friday, November 12 and would run through until the Wednesday evening of December 22.

(Photo: Declan Colohan)

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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