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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City status downgraded to ‘moderately littered’ in survey

Enda Cunningham

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Galway City Tribune – Galway City has lost its status as a ‘clean’ city in a survey of 40 towns and cities across Ireland.

The survey found that the Millennium Children’s Park behind Galway Cathedral was “completely destroyed by graffiti on every available surface”, while the river walk at Canal Road was also found to be heavily littered.

The city has now been branded ‘moderately littered’, along with Tralee, Carlow, Dublin City Centre, Navan and Mahon in Cork City in the latest study carried out by An Taisce on behalf of IBAL (Irish Business Against Litter) – it had only regained its litter-free status last September.

Ballybane – which was classed as a town for the purposes of the survey – was branded as ‘littered’ and came in at Number 38 in the league table. The Fana Glas estate was found to have “persistent litter”, while one side of St Brigid’s Church was subject to dumping.

The report found that Galway is lagging behind most other cities, having improved just three months earlier.

“It is disappointing to see this important tourist destination again slip to moderately littered having improved earlier in the year – it is lagging behind most other cities. The Courthouse and environs and Town Hall Theatre and environs were both much improved but still somewhat littered.

“The Millennium Children’s Playground was completely destroyed by graffiti on every available surface, including a piece of sculpture,” the report reads.

What the judges said:

N17 Approach: Grade B. This was generally a clean and welcoming approach to Galway City with built-up industrial and commercial estates on both sides of the road. It was somewhat littered closer to the city and this took away from an otherwise well-presented environment.

Bóthar na dTreabh: Grade A. (From Tuam Road junction to Kirwan roundabout). All appeared in good order along this route.  The planting was an attractive feature and the overall impression was of a clean and tidy environment.

University Hospital Galway: Grade A. The grounds of the hospital were in very good order – e.g. signage, planting, bins, low-lying shrubbery. The overall impression created here was a very positive one.

Carpark at UHG: Grade A. Overall, the carpark was presented well. The surface was in good condition and there was a virtual absence of litter.

NUIG: Grade A. The campus was in excellent order. Not only was there a complete absence of litter throughout the extensive area surveyed, but the whole area was exceptionally well-presented and maintained.  The mature grounds and buildings were in very good order. The litter bins were designed so that one side was for ‘general waste’ and the other was for recycling plastics, paper, cardboard and tin cans.

NUIG O’Donoghue Centre and Bridge: Grade A. The general environs of the building, including the bridge were in very good order, with a virtual absence of litter.

Eglinton Canal Walk: Grade C. This waterside environment was very much let down by heavy levels of alcohol-related litter. There was plenty of broken glass underfoot and cans had been stuck into the wall. Graffiti was also a feature at this site.

Millennium Children’s Park: Grade C. This city centre park has been destroyed by graffiti on every conceivable surface e.g. signage at entrance, Council visitor information notice board (which was devoid of any notices), litter bin, public toilets, skateboard park and even on the sculpture. There were some sweet papers. The grass/planted areas were in very good condition.

Galway Cathedral: Grade A. The Cathedral and area immediately surrounding it were spotless. The railings, paving, raised planted area, ramp signage etc. were all in excellent order. The carpark was in very good order, creating a positive impression throughout. It was clean, tidy and completely free of litter.

Courthouse: Grade B. There was a marked improvement and this time around it just missed getting the top litter grade. Some food related litter (fast-food wrappers, sweet papers, coffee cups and cans) and occasional cigarette-related litter took away from an otherwise very nicely presented environment – the building, paving, ornamental trees, railings etc. were all in excellent order.

Town Hall Theatre: Grade B. With a little extra care and attention this site could easily get the top litter grade. Cigarette-related litter was pronounced, along with plastic bottles and plastic bags.  The overall impression was quite a good one in terms of presentation.

St Nicholas Parochial School: Grade A. This school had the appearance of a lovingly-tended environment. Seats were brightly painted, spiral staircase was adorned with colourful bunting and hand and footprints decorated another wall surface.  Overall, it was a top-ranking site with a complete absence of litter throughout.

Waterside/Rowing Club: Grade C. The riverwalk along the banks adjacent to the club mooring was well cared for and almost entirely free of litter. However, there was a wide variety of litter in the water at a corner area – this area of water had limited flow, resulting in ‘trapped’ litter and scum/slime on the water’s surface.

Waterside (Woodquay): Grade A. The overall impression at this city centre residential area was a good one with well-tended gardens and a virtual absence of litter. There was a derelict site with overgrown weeds, but no major litter accumulations.

Waterside park: Grade A. A small city centre park with mature trees and well-maintained grass.  It was pretty clean with regard to litter but three benches within the park were completely broken.

Dyke Road Carpark: Grade C. The main surface area of the car park was in very good condition and clear of litter. It was the perimeter area, which was heavily-weeded and had trapped litter which brought down the litter grade. The majority of the litter was food-related. Signage relating to car park was in very good condition.

Recycle bank at Dyke Road: Grade B. The bins were mostly quite clean and presented well. It was the broken glass along the base of the bins and bottle tops/lids in the low-lying shrubbery which brought down the overall litter grade.

IMC Cinema: Grade B. The IMC building and environs were beginning to look tired with an unsightly black mould/fungus on one wall of the building. Much of the red paint on the railing had worn away and the black litter bin was very grubby. Chewing gum was pronounced, with lower levels of sweet papers and cigarette butts.

Galway Retail Park: Grade A. The colourful planting in this retail park was welcome in such a built-up environment. Many of the ‘older’ style of litter bins were in very poor condition, grubby and with the notices worn away. The newer bins were generally much fresher in appearance. Signage, paving, planted areas and general environment were in good order.

St. Brendan’s Avenue: Grade A. This street with a mix of terraced houses and apartments was generally in good order. The pavement on one side was subsiding. The road surface and markings and signage were in good order.

Eyre Square: Grade B. With a little extra care and attention this significant city centre site could easily get the top litter grade.  The litter was most pronounced at the steps. It was very well-presented and maintained.

Abbeygate Street, Lower: Grade A. This pedestrianised city centre shopping street presented very well with attractive paving and shop fronts.

Meanwhile, Ballybane had a very disappointing result in the survey, coming 38th out of 40 towns and cities (for the purposes of the survey, it was classed as a town).

Ballybane had two blackspots, after a great showing early in 2017.

The survey stated that most of its moderately littered sites could easily get the top litter grade with a little extra care and attention. These included areas such as East United Football Club, Ballybane Road, GMIT and Ballybane Shopping Centre.

However, the Fána Glas housing estate was a blackspot, as was the area around St Brigid’s Church.

East United Football Club earned a Grade B and just missed the top grade. The club building, forecourt and enclosed play area were excellent. Food-related litter and plywood sheeting took away from an otherwise very well-maintained environment.

Glenavon Drive, a residential area consisting of six semi-detached houses, received a Grade A. It was in very good order with a virtual absence of litter.

Castlepark, Numbers 1-16 and 278-339, received a Grade C.  The estate was mixed with regard to litter, according to the survey. Houses 1-16 were almost litter free. The higher house numbers in one were in much better condition, while the mid- to lower-house numbers had considerable litter.

St Brigid’s Church was deemed Grade D. It was mostly clean and well-maintained. However, bags of rubbish were strewn about an area which is highly visible to anybody using the car-park.

Fána Glas also received a Grade D. Horse dung, old clothes, plastic wrapping and carpets were present, as was graffiti. Some houses were well cared for but many were not. A boarded-up house had site-security notices.

Illegal dumping in Fana Glas.

Rocklands Avenue, a moderately littered residential area which had food-related litter and plastic wrapping, got a Grade B.

Ballybane Shopping Centre got a Grade B, and the survey stated that with a little extra attention it could get the top grade.  Chewing gum was an issue, as were graffiti and moss and grubby litter bins.  The high number of closed and vacant outlets create a ‘shuttered’ environment.

The recycle facility at Ballybane Shopping Centre was in excellent order and got an A grade for clean bins and a total absence of litter.

Ballybane Road got Grade B. One area near the shopping centre was littered with coffee cups, plastic bottles, fast-food wrappers and sweet papers.

GMIT also got Grade B.  Its overall presentation was excellent, but some food-related litter was found in the shrubbery at the road front – otherwise, it would have been a top site.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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