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Swim club exodus to leave Leisureland in deep water

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Aquatic clubs are poised to leave Leisureland over a price hike.

Five local aquatic clubs have vowed not to return to Leisureland if the operators of the Galway City Council owned swimming pool ploughs ahead with increased charges.

Two water polo clubs and three swimming clubs, collectively with as many as 700 members, have threatened to desert the facility if the executive of Leisureland implements planned price hikes.

The clubs have also warned they will ‘walk away’ from Leisureland if the executive of the Salthill centre proceeds with a proposal to take away their ‘teaching hours’. The clubs argue income generated from the lessons is used to subsidise the current charges at Leisureland, which they say are twice the national average, even before the proposed increases.

The row over price hikes at Leisureland, which has been closed since January due to storm damage, will come to a head this Friday morning (11am) when the board meets at City Hall.

The board have indicated they will resign ‘en masse’ in protest if the Leisureland executive (manager Paddy Martin and director of services, Tom Connell) ignores members’ proposals for a price freeze for clubs for six months.

Meanwhile, board member, Vincent Finn, of Swim Ireland, has warned that the five clubs will not return to Leisureland once it reopens in November if price hikes are implemented and if teaching hours are removed from clubs. Mr Finn said for the past 11 years Galway clubs have been discriminated against and have been paying twice the national average for usage of the facility.

He pointed out that the national average is €15 per lane per hour; while it is €10 in Castlebar, €12 in Longford and €10 in Sligo, which are all local authority pools. In Galway, the club rate is currently €30 per lane per hour but this is being increased by 10% to €33.

On top of that, a levy of €2 per person per session, will increase the cost of hourly lane hire by a further €14 because about seven members would use it, bringing the total to €47 per hour per lane.

“Leisureland is losing money hand over fist because it is not being run properly. It is overstaffed and under-utilised . . . Increasing charges and taking teaching lessons away from your best customers, the clubs, is not the way to turn it around. The clubs are 100 per cent not returning if the teaching hours are taken away and/or if the prices increase. It is the children who will lose out,” said Mr Finn.

For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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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