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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Councillors seek to have parking tickets quashed

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Galway City Councillors have pleaded with City Hall officials to show leniency to motorists, who were ticketed for parking illegally, documents reveal.

Former city mayor, Councillor Noel Larkin (Ind) requested the Traffic Section of the Council to withdraw a Fixed Penalty Notice issued to a person he knows who was parked illegally on a footpath.

And Councillor Clodagh Higgins (FG) made representations to the Council to quash fines issued to three pharmacy employees who had parked illegally – she argued an exception should be made for the frontline workers, who she said did not realise parking enforcement had resumed after the lockdown.

Other public representatives who contacted management of Galway City Council relating to parking tickets issued by wardens were: Alan Cheevers (FF), Frank Fahy (FG) and Eddie Hoare (FG).

Records of the representations were released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Cllr Larkin contacted City Hall and “respectfully requested the withdrawal of a parking ticket” issued to a person known to him.

The individual was, “parked on the footpath, which he understands is a violation of the Bye-laws”, the Cllr explained.

“However, he was collecting some bags of waste from his partner’s house, for disposal. The timescale was relatively short, and he endeavoured to only partially block the footpath, being respectful of pedestrians using the path.

“He would have to carry the waste bags a considerable distance if he could not park outside the house, which would cause considerable hardship to both parties concerned, due to age,” said Cllr Larkin, in an email to the Traffic Section.

He asked “can an exception be granted on this occasion due to exceptional circumstances?”.

Cllr Larkin added the individual who was ticketed has “always been respectful of the laws” and “I can vouch that there will not be a re-occurrence”.

The representation had no effect on the fine, according to the records, which show the motorist subsequently paid the fine.

Asked to comment on the representation, Cllr Larkin in a statement to the Galway City Tribune, said: “Galway City Council does not take representations from anyone regarding parking fines other than the registered owner of the vehicle in question. Any attempts I made on behalf of my constituents were when there was a disability of the driver/owner involved.”

Cllr Higgins asked City Hall to quash three separate parking tickets issued to employees of a city pharmacy, after being contacted by the owner.

“Usually, I would never get involved in parking fines, however on this occasion I agreed to make representations due to the fact that the staff are frontline workers and over the past number of months, I like everyone else in Ireland are [sic] very proud of these workers,” she said.

Cllr Higgins said that the three workers were “unaware” that the Traffic Section was “back working” after the lockdown when traffic enforcement was relaxed.

“I would be obliged if consideration could be given to quashing their fines given the fact that the staff are frontline workers that were on duty at the time and were genuinely unaware that enforcement had resumed the week prior,” she said.

When Cllr Higgins followed up the request with a reminder email 11 days later, she was told that all three individuals had appealed the parking tickets, and they had been told that the appeals were refused and the “penalty remained payable”. She was told they could have a second appeal, adjudicated by an “independent officer”.

Asked to comment on her representations, Cllr Higgins said: “I made representations on behalf of three frontline workers who had incurred fines while at work during the Covid 19 pandemic.

“Given the huge demands on all healthcare workers at that time and despite the fact I would never intervene in any breach of the law, I felt there were mitigating circumstances given the unprecedented times we found ourselves in.

“I acted in good faith believing there were extenuating circumstances. I respected the final determination of Galway City Council and did not make further representations on the matter.”

Cllr Hoare wrote to the Council to clarify if a parking ticket “may have been issued in error”. He said he was contacted by a motorist who said that “no ticket was placed on his car and he was only informed when a reminder came in the post”.

The ticket, he said, related to parking on a grass verge at Blackrock, and the driver claimed, “he never parks that far down on the road”.

The Council official said the warden had photographic evidence of the car parked on a grass verge. “From information available it appears that the ticket was correctly issued,” Cllr Hoare was told.

Cllr Hoare told the Galway City Tribune that he was merely querying to confirm if a ticket had in fact been issued.

“The area in question was along the grass verge at Blackrock. I believe better parking facilities should be provided by Galway City Council here. This amenity is used daily by a number of Galwegians and the parked cars are posing no danger to the public or oncoming traffic,” he said.

The records show that Cllr Fahy left a 21-second voicemail for an official last September, in relation to ticketing in Claddagh, where residents’ parking spaces had been blocked during repair works.

Notes of the voicemail read: “Works being carried out by Irish Water staff in Grattan Road area. This has obstructed vehicular access by residents to their off-street parking spaces.

“Parking tickets issued this week to individuals who could not access their space. This matter has caused concern and the off-street tickets must reflect same.”

Cllr Fahy said he contacted City Hall because he felt it was a genuine injustice against residents in Claddagh. He insisted that he would have “absolutely no sympathy for people caught illegally parking on footpaths or in disabled parking spaces”.

According to the documents, Cllr Cheevers made a request about a Fixed Charge Notice issued for a bus set-down violation. The data records that the appeal was refused, and the fine was subsequently paid.

The Council said fines are issued to the registered owners of a vehicle, and they have two attempts to appeal. All appeals must be made by the owner.

“If a councillor makes representations on behalf of a constituent he or she would be advised of this procedure,” it said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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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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