Millionaire businessman Ben Dunne is set to go head-to-head with broadcaster Hector Ó hEochagáin – by setting up a rival fitness centre just doors away in Briarhill.
Hector – who has his own gym in the same business park – has warned planners that a fitness centre will lead to road safety issues, indiscriminate parking and “serious” noise nuisance.
Ben Dunne Fitness Ireland Ltd – which operates a chain of cut-price gyms in Ireland and England – will find out in a matter of days if planners in Galway City Council have approved his application to use three units at Briarhill Business Park as a major new gym and fitness centre.
He has applied for a change of use on Units 28, 29, 30 from office use to a gym and leisure facility, pointing out that the ‘CI’ (Commercial and Industrial) zoning permits it.
However, Hector has objected – he set up his own gym, The Body Works, last year at Unit 62 in the same business park.
Under his real name Seán Ó hEochagáin (Shane Keogan), along with his home address in Claregalway, Hector told planners that the City Development Plan objectives do not automatically infer that planning permission should be granted.
He added that a gym would lead to increased traffic load, indiscriminate parking and a serious noise nuisance.
For more on this story, and the details of Hector’s objection, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Galway is seventh-worst city in Europe for car traffic congestion
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Car traffic congestion in Galway is quickly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, with commuters spending up to 94 hours caught on the city’s gridlocked arteries last year.
According to data compiled by INRIX, a world-leader in mobility data, Galway is the seventh-worst city in Europe for congestion, an 84% increase on its position in 2021.
The data shows that Galway places in the worst 50 cities in the world for congestion – taking 39th place, with Dublin the only other Irish city placing higher at Number 12.
While the figures show that car traffic has not fully returned to pre-Covid levels, the 2022 figures came within 13% of 2019 congestion rates.
This was despite vast numbers continuing to work from home last year, a worrying trend according to the local People Before Profit representative Adrian Curran.
In Cork, Limerick and Dublin, there had been a more lasting effect, showing decreases of 20%, 26% and 29% respectively, he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.
Galway 2020 paid €110,000 for PR while cutting spends on arts events
From this week’s City Tribune – Galway 2020’s bank account statements for five months of 2020 reveal thousands of euro were spent on public relations firms and media advertising when its cultural programme was being cut and ‘revised’ during the upheaval at the onset of Covid-19.
The AIB statements date from April to September of 2020, when Covid-19 had seriously curtailed cultural activities of Galway 2020, the company behind the city and county’s European Capital of Culture. They show more than €110,000 was paid to Dublin-based public relations firm Q4 PR, in three separate payments in April, May and June of 2020.
Thousands more were paid to other public relations firms, radio stations and, to a lesser extent, newspapers.
In March of that year, Galway 2020 announced it was reviewing its programme of events due to Covid-19 restrictions imposed by Government after a global pandemic was declared, curtailing all events.
On April 7, it confirmed it was laying off staff and had ended its agreement with Helen Marriage and Artichoke which was providing creative direction.
Later that month, it issued statements to say it was exploring a ‘re-imagined’ programme of events to take place at the end of 2020 and 2021.
Although the amounts paid to media and PR companies other than Q4 PR are relatively small, compared with expenditure on other headings, the payments suggest the importance Galway 2020 placed on image and public perception around that time.
The bank statements were released to the Galway City Tribune following a protracted Freedom of Information request and after an appeal to the Office of Information Commissioner.
Many of the payees in the bank statements were redacted but the names of several PR and media organisations are listed as having been paid by Galway 2020.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article with details of the spending, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. There is also coverage of this week’s rebranding and new vision of Galway 2020. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.
Plans for major upgrade of community centre to benefit Mervue
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Plans for a major overhaul of the community centre in the basement of Mervue Church – including activity rooms, a meeting room, training space and a hairdressing salon – have been lodged at City Hall.
It will employ more than 20 people on a full and part-time basis – including Community Employment Scheme workers.
COPE Galway has sought planning permission for a series of changes to the Holy Family Church including alterations to the basement layout; a new main entrance; concrete stairs from the carpark and the reopening of windows at basement level.
“The proposed refurbished and upgraded community centre will provide a vibrant and dynamic space for the community of Mervue. The space will act as a central hub and meeting place which can be used for a variety of community activities, meetings and events,” the application reads.
It notes a series of “typical occupants” including: reception; an information hub; general activity room (arts and crafts, games and light exercise); sensory/meditation room; clinic room for health checks and physiotherapy; space for people with dementia; toilets and shower room; pet therapy area; space for teens/young adults; laundry; hairdressing salon; computer training room; meeting room (with possibility of rental to local groups); small café and kitchen, space for a men’s shed and an outside garden with seating area.
“The centre will also provide employment and will be staffed with a diversity of employees, including Community Employment Scheme workers and volunteers of differing age and other social demographics,” the application reads.
Image: An artist’s impression of the cafe in the proposed centre.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the January 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.