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CITY TRIBUNE

€100,000 CCTV bill for monitoring two estates and halting site

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It cost Galway City Council €100,000 last year to monitor security camera footage at the Carrowbrowne halting site and two of its estates in Ballybane.

There are nine CCTV systems provided by seven providers on behalf of the Council throughout the city installed to prevent anti-social behaviour and crime, thwart illegal dumping and protect Council assets, staff and members of the public.

Head of IT at Galway City Council Alfie Jones told councillors that it was costing €100,185 to actively monitor cameras at the Carrowbrowne halting site on the Headford Road and the Fana Glas and Sliabh Rua estates on the east side.

Nearly €62,000 was being doled out for a monitoring service on cameras erected at the Council’s vacant properties which are being refurbished for new tenants.

Over €14,000 had been spent between erecting cameras and monitoring them at the former Galway Airport. More than €10,000 had been spent on internally checking traffic cameras.

Fine Gael Councillor Frank Fahy said tenants were paying an average of €20 rent a week at Carrowbrowne yet the Council was spending thousands per family on the cameras.

Independent Cllr Collette Connolly said she was one of the councillors who had opposed the CCTV due to its cost and that it only served to move trouble elsewhere. She demanded to know how many times the footage had been used to bring someone to account.

“We spent €1.2m on cameras in Hillside [halting site in Ballybane] and had to spend thousands and thousands on removing rubbish from under the cameras. There’s no camera working in Carn Ard [in the Westside] and there are bonfires up there continuously every year,” she exclaimed.

“Fana Glas – everyone knows it was a bloody dump, yet there were CCTV cameras . . . we put in cameras at huge expense but they’re not monitored What’s the point? €100,000 for cameras at Carrowbrowne and look at the state of it? What are we at?”

Fianna Fáil’s Peter Keane said what was obscene in his eyes is that the Council have to spend such huge sums on security cameras.

“Who do you think interferes with it in these sites? I think CCTV is of huge benefit. My information is it was used at bottle banks to secure prosecutions for illegal dumping.”

Independent Cllr Donal Lyons asked why there was no working cameras at the Galway City Museum, where windows were recently damaged.

“One window alone cost €19,000. It would have paid the Council to have working cameras there.”

Mr Jones said new community CCTV schemes, for which there was a maximum grant of €40,000 available under a 2017 scheme worth €1 million, were on hold until clarification was received about the new data regulations in force from May 25 which may prove too onerous on those running the scheme.

A motion by Cllr Connolly to change the age of digital consent under the data protection guidelines from 13 to 16 was passed.

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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