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CITY TRIBUNE

Parking fines: Galway City Council accused of focusing on raising revenue

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Cosáin, a local cycling and pedestrian safety group, is claiming Galway City Council’s parking enforcement is mostly concerned with raising revenue rather than punishing or deterring illegal and obstructive parking.

The group’s spokesperson, Simon Comer, levelled the charge after analysing the past two years of Fixed Charge Penalty Notices (FCPN) issued by community wardens.

Uinsinn Finn, senior engineer, told the latest Joint Policing Committee meeting that there had been an increase in the number of parking fines issued by the City Council last year.

Mr Finn indicated to the meeting that the increase in fines issued may be related to the introduction of parking charges on Sundays at Council car parks, and the subsequent extra enforcement on the seventh day of every week.

However, Cosáin has supplied figures to the Galway City Tribune showing a substantial number of the fines issued relate to revenue-raising offences, as opposed to parking in locations where it is illegal to park.

Reports into the number of tickets issued by offence were released to Cosáin following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

They show that the total number of parking tickets issued by the City Council increased by 9% in 2017 compared with the previous year.

In 2016, some 14,123 FCPN were issued. That increased by around 1,300 to 15,429 in 2017.

Cosáin has pointed out that a considerable chunk of the tickets are not related to illegal parking that is causing an obstruction, and are “revenue-raising offences”.

Some 40% of all tickets issued by the City Council last year were for two offences that Cosáin says are mainly concerned with raising money to boost the local authority’s coffers.

A total of 2,603 tickets were issued for the offence of “parking a vehicle in a space in which a parking is subject to the payment of fees without displaying a valid parking disc”. A further 3,579 tickets were issued for “failing to display a current tax disc”.

For comparison, some 1,597 tickets were issued last year for “parking a vehicle on double yellow lines”; and 847 were issued for “parking a vehicle wholly or partly on a footpath”.

Mr Comer said: “A vehicle may be in a legal parking space but the Motor Tax disc may be invalid. The Council’s stats typically show that a substantial proportion of ‘parking’ fines are not for parking in illegal locations but for Motor Tax offences or for having invalid parking discs where a fee has to be paid. This could include, for example, parking in one of the City Council’s Pay & Display areas but having an expired disc.

“In other words, much of the Council’s ‘parking’ control effort is aimed primarily at revenue collection, through fines and fees. This is why the Council rarely, if ever, tries to control parking chaos around schools, keep the bike lanes clear or free the footpaths in residential areas. Their priorities lie elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, at the JPC meeting, Superintendent Marie Skehill in a written response to City Councillor Frank Fahy (FG) said Gardaí had issued a total of 229 Fixed Charge Notices during January and February of this year.

The Garda FCPN are separate and in addition to the Council’s figures.

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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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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