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Department accused of ‘landgrab’ for school

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Plans for the doubling in size of the Education Together primary school in Newcastle could involve an illegal ‘landgrab’ by the Department of Education, it has been claimed.

And the Department has been criticised for failing to consult properly with the neighbouring Croí Heart and Stroke Centre over traffic measures.

Neil Johnson, Chief Executive of the heart foundation, said he is not opposing the extension of the school in any way, but said there has been a lack of consultation, and he has safety concerns over a proposed roundabout and roadway to a new carpark, which will be located outside the Croí centre.

He said the existing traffic plans are dangerous because of the age profile and levels of mobility of patients in the centre.

He told the Galway City Tribune: “A substantial part of the work on the roundabout will be on our grounds, and we have not given consent.

“There are also safety concerns – the profile of people walking out of our centre will be older, possibly having had a stroke, with limited mobility. They will walk out onto a roundabout, so where are the protection rails and pedestrian crossings.

“We have no problem with the proposed building or the idea of an extension. Our issue is with the significance of a roundabout of that size and the lack of consultation.

“How can they expect to build on land which is ours? You don’t just go and build on somebody’s land without consent,” said Mr Johnson.

In a submission on the planning file, Mr Johnson wrote: “The current application will involve significant alterations to property under our control. While discussions with respect to this aspect of the school extension commenced shortly in advance of lodging the planning application, these discussions were not finalised and there are a number of aspects of the proposal which have significant implications for Croí.

“We were not aware that the Dept. was lodging the application in advance of reaching agreement with us, following which we were prepared to provide a letter of consent for the progress of the planning application.

“Without the [letter of consent] from us, the applicant does not have sufficient legal interest for the purposes of making this application,” Mr Johnson wrote.

The plans for the two-storey extension include eight classrooms, teachers’ rooms, library and set rooms.

There will also be a new access road to a carparking and drop-off facility with 32 spaces, a further 10 spaces in the existing carpark, a new ballcourt, junior play area and landscaped garden.

There will also be a new access road and roundabout to cater for both the new extension and a proposed community centre on an adjacent site.

A decision on the application is expected at the end of this month.

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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