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€6m development approved for Galway Racecourse

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A €6 million redevelopment of the enclosure at Galway Racecourse, featuring a new indoor betting hall and additional bar/food facilities, has been confirmed.

The Board of Horse Racing Ireland yesterday approved funding for Galway Racecourse of €2.1 million for the project.

The development represents an overall investment of €6 million by the racecourse, including all ancillary services and fit out. As part of the redevelopment project, the existing long, narrow Tote Ireland building will be demolished and replaced with a new structure incorporating the betting hall and bar/food facilities.

The development will vastly improve the enclosure around the parade ring and bookmakers ring. The repositioning of the new building will create much greater circulation space for racegoers which will enhance the atmosphere and create ease of movement even on the busiest days.

Construction of the new building will begin immediately after the 2017 Galway Summer Festival with a launch date ahead of the 2018 festival planned.

The two-storey building will feature a large, open-plan betting hall with capacity for up to 550 racegoers on the ground floor, with Tote Ireland betting counters on three sides and a large betting shop on the fourth side. Externally, there will be 46 Tote Ireland betting windows, with the majority facing the racetrack. The windows will be set back to provide weather protection to racegoers.

A modern champagne bar with a high standard of décor will provide a new level of comfort for Galway patrons on the first floor of the new building. With capacity for 450 people, the champagne bar will open onto a large covered terrace overlooking the parade ring, betting ring and part of the racetrack. A sizeable portion of both upstairs and downstairs will be dedicated to new toilet facilities.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland welcomed the project. “Galway Racecourse’s new development will provide an attractive focal point in the enclosure and an improved level of comfort and shelter for racegoers.

“Removing the existing Tote building will reconfigure a traditionally congested area around the betting ring and parade ring, opening up pedestrian access and improving the enclosure layout. Galway’s seven-day festival is our most popular festival and HRI is happy to provide grant aid for a project that will directly benefit racegoers who head West every year.”

Michael Moloney, Manager of Galway Racecourse, commented: “We are delighted to receive support from Horse Racing Ireland for our next redevelopment to add to the first-class facilities we have here at Galway.

“The Committee at Galway has always been proactive in continuing to improve the facilities and this latest €6 million development will significantly improve the racegoer experience which is paramount to maintaining Galway’s position as one of the highlights of the summer racing calendar. Each year, the Summer Festival puts Galway on the front pages and provides an extraordinary €54 million boost to the local economy.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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