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Survey reveals 36 shut premises in Ballinasloe town centre

Declan Tierney

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Three empty premises side by side in Ballinasloe town centre.

The officially-designated county town of Galway has 36 prime business units vacant – indicating that any signs of an economic recovery have not filtered out to the rural parts.
Ballinasloe has been designated as the county town of Galway but a weekend survey reveals that it is certainly not reaping the benefits.
There are now 27 shop units with their shutters down while nine pubs are no longer trading. One closed as recently as last weekend.
It is a nightmare scenario for Ballinasloe which lost hundreds of jobs in recent years with the closure of some high profile manufacturing industries like AT Cross and Square D.
Recently, a senior IDA official attended a meeting of the local Municipal Council and did not offer huge hopes of any significant new jobs being created in the town.
But the revelation that there are now almost 40 business premises unoccupied in and around the town centre in Ballinasloe is sure to come as a wake-up call for local business leaders.
The survey was conducted by the Connacht Tribune along the three main streets which meet at the roundabout in the centre of the town – Dunlo Street, Main Street and Society Street.
The results do not provide confidence for the other town centre business interests – with a lot of the blame being put on the development of out-of-town retail units such as Tesco, Aldi and Lidl.
Chairman of Ballinasloe Municipal Council, Cllr. Michael Finnerty said that it was high time that the Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD) woke up to the crisis and tried to address it.
“We are looking at a situation that the shutters could come down on a lot more business premises unless the situation is addressed.
“As a council we are trying to relax the paid parking situation and we feel that this will go some way towards helping out existing businesses,” Cllr Finnerty added.
While the survey in Ballinasloe was conducted in and around the town centre, Cllr Finnerty said that there were several more business premises on the outskirts which were also closed down.

CITY TRIBUNE

Changes to garda structure require ‘feet on the ground’

Francis Farragher

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STRUCTURAL changes in Garda management – which will see the current Western Region merged with the Northern area – need to be backed up with ‘feet on the ground’, according to the Chairperson of the city’s Joint Policing Committee.

Cllr Niall McNelis said he also had concerns over the impact that a reduction in Garda Superintendents and Chief Superintendents could have on the management of the force across the Galway region.

“I know that the stated intention of the Commissioner [Drew Harris] is to increase the frontline presence of Gardaí but this cannot be achieved without more feet on the ground.

“There also has to be concerns over an apparent lack of consultation on the changes with Garda Superintendents who really play a key role in managing the Garda resources at local level,” said Cllr McNelis.

He added that in the aftermath of the financial crash in Ireland, Garda resources – both in terms of personnel and equipment – had taken a huge hit, with this ‘lost ground’ still not being made up.

“The bottom line in all of this is: will we see more Gardaí on the beat; more Gardaí operating at local level and in touch with local people; and also a management structure that’s in touch with local communities?” Cllr McNelis asked.

One of the major changes announced by Commissioner Drew Harris is a reduction in the number of national Garda regions across the country from six to four, each one under the control of an Assistant Commissioner.  The Western Garda Region – that had consisted of Galway, Clare, Roscommon/Longford and Mayo – will now be merged into one region amalgamating with the North.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Traffic gridlock – specialist traffic control operator at City Hall among proposed solutions

Francis Farragher

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THE city came close to complete gridlock on last Tuesday with a combination of minor accidents, roadworks, visitor numbers, an influx of shoppers and bad weather, making it a nightmare afternoon and evening for motorists.

Eyre Square, College Road, Lough Atalia, the Moneenagheisha junction and the dual-carriageway leading up to the Briarhill traffic-lights, endured the most severe clog-ups, but commuters across the city reported long delays from lunchtime through to the later evening period.

Former Mayor of Galway and taxi-operator, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that by early afternoon he had to abandon his efforts to continue working.

“I know that there was a huge volume of traffic in the city due to back-to-school shoppers and there were also reports of a number of minor accidents, but I still think that we can do better in terms of managing the flow of vehicles.

“The roadworks in Bohermore were no help and there were reports of a number of minor accidents but we also have real problems with parking and signage issues in the city.

“And most of all, we need a hands-on specialist traffic control operator – experienced and skilled in traffic management – in the control room at City Hall, to monitor flows at all our key junctions,” said Cllr Fahy.

Public transport also got completely bogged down in the Tuesday evening snarl-up with bus commuters from the city to Oranmore reporting a journey time of close on one hour and 20 minutes.

Buses took up to 20 minutes to make it from their stops in Eyre Square to even get onto College Road which had almost ground to a complete standstill at around 5.30pm.

Another motorist told the Galway City Tribune that his journey time from Forster Street to the Briarhill junction was one hour and 50 minutes on Tuesday evening – 4.10pm to 6pm.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

2020 still far short of private funding target

Dara Bradley

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Galway 2020, the company set-up to deliver the European Capital of Culture next year, remains well behind on its target of raising €6.75 million in private funding.

Making Waves, the bid book that won Galway the designation, committed Galway 2020 to raising income totalling €6.75 million from private sponsors and philanthropists.

The bid book specified that this was income to be spent on operating expenditure for the year-long programme of events.

With less than a month to go before the official programme is unveiled, Galway 2020 declined this week to confirm how much money it has raised through sponsorship.

Galway 2020 has consistently said that it intends to raise €6.75m in sponsorship; and this figure has been quoted in several briefing documents prepared for Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, which were released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

A briefing note for Minister Madigan dated April 10, 2019, under the heading, ‘philanthropy’, mentioned that some €133,477 had been received in total by Galway 2020 in sponsorship and in-kind support as of December 31, 2018.

In March 2019, a financial report by Galway 2020, confirmed that the company had raised less than €30,000 in private sponsorship income last year. This suggests that some €100,000 of the total raised last year, was in-kind.

When asked to clarify how much cash it has raised from sponsorship, minus in-kind support, Galway 2020 said its “fundraising target hasn’t changed”.

“The current value of the fundraising and partnerships pipeline is €4.5m – this includes a combination of commercial as well as trusts and foundations, comprising funds already committed, proposals submitted and further partnerships that are under consideration. These proposals and agreements are a combination of cash and in-kind support,” it said.

Galway 2020 declined to elaborate on how much of this €4.5 million “pipeline” was income and how much was in-kind support. It also did not say how much of that “pipeline” is already ‘banked’, and how much was not yet collected.

Included in that €4.5 million figure was a “significant corporate partnership with Medtronic”, which has become the health partner of Galway 2020 and sponsor of its Wave Maker volunteer programme, it said. However, Galway 2020 did not elaborate on the cash value – as opposed to any in-kind value – of that agreement, which was announced a fortnight ago.

“The nature of the breakdown of partnership agreements are commercially sensitive to each of our partners,” a spokesperson said.

The sole mention of the term “in-kind” in the bid book is on page 89, where it states: “The Promotion & Marketing budget described above will be supplemented by in-kind marketing benefit from our supporters, strategic partners & producers.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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