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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Councillors seek to have parking tickets quashed

Dara Bradley

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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

Galway City businesses determined to weather lockdown storm

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Despite devastation for city businesses this week amid a return to lockdown, many remain determined to weather the storm – and with the Council’s approval this week of additional measures to entice people to the city centre when restrictions ease, there is a hope that a good Christmas could save them.

Level 5 restrictions which came into force on yesterday (Thursday) have forced ‘unessential’ retailers to close their doors once again in an attempt by Government to get a handle on spiralling numbers of Covid-19.

And while those affected, mainly in the retail and hospitality sectors, are facing huge challenges to keep their heads above water, they had to remain positive that all was not lost if coronavirus could be got under control over the next six weeks.

Anthony Ryan, of the Galway City Business Association, said that while closing their clothes shops had been hugely disappointing, he had to remain optimistic.

“We just have to stay going and remain positive. Our clothes division is non-essential so that is temporarily closed, in line with the Government guidelines. Items necessary for households are essential so that means our home store remains open.

“Business had recovered quite well by September, but once Level 3 was introduced, there was a big fall off for everybody,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Many businesses, including his own, had made huge strives to improve their online offering in recent months and it was his hope that people would continue to support local when they shopped online, even if they couldn’t get in to the physical stores.

“Online sales continue to be very strong. We hope to have our fashion website up in a couple of weeks, so there has been a lot of work going into that in the background,” said Mr Ryan.

Meanwhile, councillors this week backed a plan that will result in an overhaul of traffic flow in the city core – transforming Middle Street into a shared-surface and eliminating all cars not owned by residents on the street – ruling out full pedestrianisation due to residents’ requirements.
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

Plan for new cross-city public transport corridor go on display

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is hopeful that a proposed new public transport corridor – linking the western and eastern suburbs through the city centre – could be ready to go for planning permission next year.

This week, a six-week public consultation process began on the ‘Cross-City Link’.

The Council is hopeful that a planning application could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála next year, and if approved, it would take 12-18 months to construct.

The Cross-City Link begins at the junction of University Road and Newcastle Road and continues across the Salmon Weir Bridge, through St Vincent’s Avenue, St Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Eyre Square, Forster Street, College Road and on to the Dublin Road.

“Through traffic, with no specific destination in the city centre, will be diverted,” the City Council said.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Engineer with the Council said: “This corridor will connect homes with places of work, study, retail and recreation, with improved public transport journey times and reliability.

“High-quality public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities and public transport priority will be provided, making it easier to move through the city, and to access destinations by sustainable means.

“This will create a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired, and public transport services will move more freely. Deliveries and access to carparks will be facilitated, as will access to homes or businesses.

“The Council invites the public, landowners and other stakeholders to review the proposals, and to share their feedback,” said Mr Finn.

He said that schemes such as the new corridor are key projects and are “essential” to keeping the city moving.

“They are key to supporting sustainable travel modes and to support the ambitious targets for Galway as set out in the National Development Plan,” Mr Finn added.

He said it is anticipated the proposal can be submitted for planning consent next year, and subject to permission being granted, it would take 12-18 months to complete.
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

Pilot initiative will restrict car traffic around Galway City school

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have backed a proposal to restrict car traffic around Scoil Iognáid on Raleigh Row as part of a ‘School Streets’ pilot project.

The initiative, which involves a time-specific curtailment on cars at school drop-off and pick-up times, will result in the pedestrianisation of Raleigh Row, Palmyra Park and Palmyra Avenue – closed to traffic from 8.15am to 9.15am; and 1.15pm to 2.45pm.

Due to start on November 2, residents in the area will still be allowed access, but have been asked to “avoid using their car during the periods of pedestrianisation”, while those with blue badges will also be permitted to drive in the area.

Signage indicating the restrictions will be erected, while Gardaí and community wardens will enforce the pedestrianisation and parking respectively.

‘Park and Stride’ will be encouraged for getting children to school when no alternative is available, whereby parents park a short distance from the school and finish the remainder of the journey by foot – with registration enabling city school-goers’ parents to park for free in over 20 car parks.

Arlene Finn of the City Council’s Transport Department told councillors that 145 parents at Scoil Iognáid had already registered for this initiative, and by introducing the School Streets programme, the area would become infinitively safer and more appealing to parents and children wishing to walk or cycle to school.
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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