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CITY TRIBUNE

Delays to opening of women’s refuge on former Magdalen convent site

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The planned new COPE Galway refuge in the former Magdalen convent on Forster Street is taking longer than planned, with best estimates for completion now set for late 2019.

The development involves an arduous application process for a Capital Assistance Grant of around €1.16 million through the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

The detailed design work for the €2.5m overhaul of the protected building has been completed by Simon J Kelly Architects and was approved by the Department and Galway City Council.

Documents are about to be finalised for the publication of tenders, which will be sent to pre-qualified contractors who were selected on the basis of their tender applications last year.

The preferred contractor will be selected by the end of the summer and COPE will then await approval from the Department and the Council, which could take a substantial amount of time.

COPE Galway Assistant CEO Martin O’Connor said the original date of moving in by late 2018 had proved far too ambitious.

“It has taken an awful lot longer than we had hoped and expected. But we are hopeful of moving in by the end of 2019,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“That’s maybe being a bit ambitious. The Capital Assistance Scheme has four stages and processing each stage, getting clarifications and awaiting approval, all takes a great deal of time, which we’ve found out is the experience with projects nationally.

“It’s a challenging design as well because it’s a protected structure so that took some time as well. But if there are no undue delays that’s our aim – end of 2019.”

The convent on 47 Forster Street will be transformed into a domestic violence refuge – the only 24/7 accessible refuge in the West of Ireland.

The project will create nine self-contained residential units, staff accommodation, offices, outreach facilities, meeting rooms and a childcare facility. It will involve the demolition of the existing boiler house, stores, and back rear corridor and the construction of a new extension to the back and an attic extension on the second floor. The refuge will be bounded by new security fences and gated entrance.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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 City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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