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Galway County Council asked to return cash for cycleway

A refund totalling €53,000 of taxpayers’ money was sought from Galway County Council because it did not ‘fully deliver’ a cycling project in Connemara.

The Department of Rural and Community Development requested the refund from the County Council in respect of Clonbur Woods Cycling Trail close to the Galway/Mayo border.

Taxpayers’ funding totalling €137,200 was granted to the County Council for the development of Clonbur as a recreational hub and bicycle trails.

But an audit by the Department found that “the project for which funding was offered has not been fully delivered”.

An inspection report by the Department’s Athenry-based Inspection Compliance Business Development Unit identified an over-payment of €53,000 in “ineligible grant aid”.

The report, released under Freedom of Information (FOI), said the Department would “organise for the recovery of the undue funding”.

It noted that there was no evidence provided to the Department that the project costs amounted to €171,500.

A review of the project found that the “eligible cost” was €105,250, and the eligible grant aid was €84,200.

It highlighted how signage recognising the funders, Department of Rural and Community Development and Government of Ireland, “was not in place” at the site in Clonbur.

The review listed works that were completed by the Council, but which were deemed ineligible for funding by the Department.

The ineligible amounts included €4,000 to supply and install marker posts at 500m along new cycle loops; €3,950 to supply and install picnic seats; and a total of €8,575 for landscaping and other works at the entrance to the car park and bike trails. These works had been carried out.

There was also ineligible funding, according to the Department, for works where there was no evidence of payment, or where the work hadn’t yet been completed. This included €1,000 for marketing, which had not been incurred at the time of the review last year. The Department said that this was “not approved as part of the initial application” for funding.

Some €3,670 for signage was deemed ineligible as it had not been “fully delivered” when the inspection took place, and the project costs of the signage exceeded the budget of what was applied for.

Some €600 for photography and videography was deemed “ineligible grant aid” and so too was €240 for Bed and Breakfast for two people.

The Council said this €240 was for “visiting media in relation to the marketing plan”, but the Department said the marketing plan was not delivered and the amount was ineligible.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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