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CITY TRIBUNE

Nightclub owner objects to rival’s licence renewal

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A city centre nightclub withdrew its objections to the renewal of a rival nightclub’s drinks and dance licences, after the latter gave undertakings in court to close a number of disputed areas within its premises to patrons, pending the granting of planning permission.

Sugarleisure Ltd., trading as Carbon nightclub, 19-21 Eglinton Street, had objected to the renewal of intoxicating liquor and dance licences pertaining to Electric Garden, situated at 26-38, Abbeygate Street, and the nominee of Central Park (Galway) Ltd., Maurice Gillen.

Sugarleisure Ltd. objected to the renewal of both licences on the grounds that the premises of Electric Garden had been extended beyond the boundary of the permitted licensed premises; and, that a portion of the premises of Electric Garden was not licensed.

Ms Dorothy Collins BL, for the appellants, contended all areas of the nightclub were covered by the existing licence.

Ms Constance Cassidy SC, who represented Sugarleisure Ltd. at a fully contested hearing before a special sitting of Galway District Court this week, told Judge Alan Mitchell her clients had no objection to Electric Garden continuing to operate in areas within the “original licensed footprint” of the premises which already had planning permission, but that newer areas, which had since been added on, would have to suspend public access and trading, pending the granting of full planning permission.

Following lengthy legal argument, Judge Mitchell held with Ms Cassidy’s argument that the newer areas were operating without a licence.

However, he said he would grant both the dance and drink licences provided the nightclub only operated within the footprint of the original licence, pending the granting of planning permission for the newer areas.

“The alternative is the nuclear option,” he warned.

The judge then gave both legal teams time to reach an agreement about which areas of the existing nightclub were to close to the public until such time as planning permission was granted.

Ms Cassidy returned to the court an hour later and said Sugarleisure Ltd. was withdrawing its objections to the granting or both licences as an agreement had been reached on the basis that Mr Gillen gave an undertaking to the court that there would be no patrons or no trading allowed in agreed areas, which were the subject of a new planning application.

Mr Gillen signed an undertaking in court in which he agreed: (a) that he and his company would undertake not to trade in the agreed areas until full planning permission had been granted in respect of a planning application lodged on September 21 last; (b) that a certificate entitling the appellant to receive a full seven-licence, in respect of the unlicensed areas, had been granted; and (c) that only staff may use a stairs (in the disputed areas) in order to serve patrons food from the kitchen.

In return, Rory Collins, on behalf of Sugarleisure Ltd., signed an undertaking in court not to object to Mr Gillen’s planning application, not to object to the court certified application for the granting of a seven-day licence, and not to object to the suitability of the premises, under Section 32 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1960.

Judge Mitchell then renewed both licences for Central Park (Galway) Ltd., and noted the undertakings signed by both parties in court.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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