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

Dara Bradley



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.


Galway City businesses determined to weather lockdown storm

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Despite devastation for city businesses this week amid a return to lockdown, many remain determined to weather the storm – and with the Council’s approval this week of additional measures to entice people to the city centre when restrictions ease, there is a hope that a good Christmas could save them.

Level 5 restrictions which came into force on yesterday (Thursday) have forced ‘unessential’ retailers to close their doors once again in an attempt by Government to get a handle on spiralling numbers of Covid-19.

And while those affected, mainly in the retail and hospitality sectors, are facing huge challenges to keep their heads above water, they had to remain positive that all was not lost if coronavirus could be got under control over the next six weeks.

Anthony Ryan, of the Galway City Business Association, said that while closing their clothes shops had been hugely disappointing, he had to remain optimistic.

“We just have to stay going and remain positive. Our clothes division is non-essential so that is temporarily closed, in line with the Government guidelines. Items necessary for households are essential so that means our home store remains open.

“Business had recovered quite well by September, but once Level 3 was introduced, there was a big fall off for everybody,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Many businesses, including his own, had made huge strives to improve their online offering in recent months and it was his hope that people would continue to support local when they shopped online, even if they couldn’t get in to the physical stores.

“Online sales continue to be very strong. We hope to have our fashion website up in a couple of weeks, so there has been a lot of work going into that in the background,” said Mr Ryan.

Meanwhile, councillors this week backed a plan that will result in an overhaul of traffic flow in the city core – transforming Middle Street into a shared-surface and eliminating all cars not owned by residents on the street – ruling out full pedestrianisation due to residents’ requirements.
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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Plan for new cross-city public transport corridor go on display

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is hopeful that a proposed new public transport corridor – linking the western and eastern suburbs through the city centre – could be ready to go for planning permission next year.

This week, a six-week public consultation process began on the ‘Cross-City Link’.

The Council is hopeful that a planning application could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála next year, and if approved, it would take 12-18 months to construct.

The Cross-City Link begins at the junction of University Road and Newcastle Road and continues across the Salmon Weir Bridge, through St Vincent’s Avenue, St Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Eyre Square, Forster Street, College Road and on to the Dublin Road.

“Through traffic, with no specific destination in the city centre, will be diverted,” the City Council said.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Engineer with the Council said: “This corridor will connect homes with places of work, study, retail and recreation, with improved public transport journey times and reliability.

“High-quality public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities and public transport priority will be provided, making it easier to move through the city, and to access destinations by sustainable means.

“This will create a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired, and public transport services will move more freely. Deliveries and access to carparks will be facilitated, as will access to homes or businesses.

“The Council invites the public, landowners and other stakeholders to review the proposals, and to share their feedback,” said Mr Finn.

He said that schemes such as the new corridor are key projects and are “essential” to keeping the city moving.

“They are key to supporting sustainable travel modes and to support the ambitious targets for Galway as set out in the National Development Plan,” Mr Finn added.

He said it is anticipated the proposal can be submitted for planning consent next year, and subject to permission being granted, it would take 12-18 months to complete.
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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Pilot initiative will restrict car traffic around Galway City school

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have backed a proposal to restrict car traffic around Scoil Iognáid on Raleigh Row as part of a ‘School Streets’ pilot project.

The initiative, which involves a time-specific curtailment on cars at school drop-off and pick-up times, will result in the pedestrianisation of Raleigh Row, Palmyra Park and Palmyra Avenue – closed to traffic from 8.15am to 9.15am; and 1.15pm to 2.45pm.

Due to start on November 2, residents in the area will still be allowed access, but have been asked to “avoid using their car during the periods of pedestrianisation”, while those with blue badges will also be permitted to drive in the area.

Signage indicating the restrictions will be erected, while Gardaí and community wardens will enforce the pedestrianisation and parking respectively.

‘Park and Stride’ will be encouraged for getting children to school when no alternative is available, whereby parents park a short distance from the school and finish the remainder of the journey by foot – with registration enabling city school-goers’ parents to park for free in over 20 car parks.

Arlene Finn of the City Council’s Transport Department told councillors that 145 parents at Scoil Iognáid had already registered for this initiative, and by introducing the School Streets programme, the area would become infinitively safer and more appealing to parents and children wishing to walk or cycle to school.
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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