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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors warned Galway Civic Trust facing cash crisis

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A cash crisis threatens the future financial viability of Galway Civic Trust, city councillors have been told.

Chairperson of the Trust, Jack Mulveen, has warned Galway City Council that the “survival of the Trust and its renewal is dependent on the appropriate steps being taken now and in the coming months”. It needs a cash injection of €43,000 next year.

The City Council reduced its funding to the Trust in 2018, which “caused liquidity problems”, according to Mr Mulveen, and as a result “we had to draw on our prudent reserves to sustain running costs”.

“These reserves have now been exhausted and our financial viability is questionable,” he said.

The “minimum required” every year to run the Trust is €35,000, he said, and in 2019 a “financial float” of €8,000 is also required to replenish the Trust’s reserves.

The funding crisis at the Trust is highlighted in a three-page letter from Mr Mulveen to city councillor’s ahead of the preparation of the local authority’s budget for 2019.

“While the Trust is looking for funds for its survival, we like to see these funds as an investment in the city as everything we undertake, the city is the beneficiary. We also want to make the connection with stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership to implement a plan to make Galway more attractive to everyone,” he said.

The Trust is responsible for historic buildings Fishery Watchtower Museum and Hall of the Red Earl, as well as putting on local events for National Heritage Week and Culture Night. It also manages a CE scheme, which includes projects such as the Circle of Life Garden in Salthill and Bádoiri an Cladaig.

Mr Mulveen outlined to councillors that the Board of the Trust has ‘changed tack’ following scandals that have come to light at the Trust.

“The recent adverse publicity in the media, albeit misconstrued, caused us to reflect on our function and ushered in a new approach or roadmap for the Trust. While we addressed and reversed the bad publicity, the experience taught us that our model of business is old and it requires radical reform for sustainability,” said Mr Mulveen.

He pointed out to councillors, who will ultimately vote on whether to fund the Trust or not, when the Budget comes before them next month, that the Trust, “has played an essential part of the promotion and enhancement of Galway’s built heritage”.

It has also “contributed to tourism by providing tourist leisure amenities to showcase the historic essence of Galway”.

Mr Mulveen outlined a ‘process of renewal’ for the Trust, which was a “new board, a new approach, a new way of doing business, a new Civic Trust”.

“We now believe the reconstruction of the Trust and not its demise is in the best interest of Galway. We want to embrace change by creating a more sustainable future and to share and take part in a plan for Galway that is achievable and beneficial. We want to build on the legacy of engagement; provide a platform of collaboration from other professionals for the benefit of Galway. We are seeking new acquisitions and targeting more historic buildings in need of refurbishment and creating additional tourist hubs or places of special interest in the city,” added Mr Mulveen.

The Trust was granted €50,000 from the Council every year from 2012 to 2016. However, funding fell by €10,000 to €40,000 in 2017 and the Trust received just €20,000 so far this year.

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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