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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Out of hours’ warning served on developers of Westwood site

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Failure to adhere to planning restrictions has led to an Enforcement Notice being served on the developers of student accommodation on the site of the former Westwood Hotel in Dangan.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that construction works were taking place outside the hours designated by An Bord Pleanála in planning permission granted for the 394-bed development in September last year.

The Enforcement Notice came following a warning letter sent to the developers in November 2018.

In its decision to grant permission, it was stated: “Site development and building works shall be carried out only between 8am to 7pm Mondays to Fridays and 8am and 2pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays and public holidays”.

However, a spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed that their Planning Department had established that work was being carried out during weekend hours when it was prohibited, leading to a number of complaints to City Hall from nearby residents.

“13 complaints have been received and Enforcement proceedings are ongoing,” he stated.

NTM Capital (formerly Ziggurat) was granted permission to proceed with the construction of five apartment blocks on the Newcastle site last year as a Strategic Housing Development.

Planning applications for housing developments of more than 100 residential units or 200 student bed spaces can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála following initial consultations with local authorities.

Local residents reported hammers and saws commencing shortly after 7am each morning and on the May Bank Holiday weekend, a small number of workers continued work well after 6pm – working into the night-time hours.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, one resident in an estate adjacent to the site said since the Enforcement Notice was issued last week, out-of-hours work had ceased, but the same had happened after a warning letter was issued in November, only to start again after some time had passed.

In the notice issued to NTM and building contractors BAM, the Council stated that developers are immediately required to comply in full with the conditions of planning permission.

If not, the local authority has the power to enter the site and take steps including the removal, demolition or alteration of any structure.

“You are further required to refund to the planning authority any costs or expenses incurred by them in relation to the investigation, detection and issue of this Enforcement Notice and warning letter dated November 8th, 2018,” the notice stated.

“You are further warned that if within the period specified in the Enforcement Notice, you fail to take the specified steps, you may be guilty of an offence.”

The development is due to open to students in September 2020.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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