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CITY TRIBUNE

Time City Hall treats public with the respect it deserves

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley

The Transport Department at City Hall has developed a rather cavalier attitude to the public it is supposed to serve.

And it’s not just over residential parking permits, although that whole episode – which is not over yet – is indicative of a disconnect between officials and the public, and with public representatives.

That city councillors felt the need to call a special meeting and bring a Section 140 motion compelling the Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath, to end the practice of refusing parking permits on the basis that people have driveways, says it all.

Section 140s are rarely used ‘nuclear’ options for elected members when they feel other efforts at solving issues are being frustrated.

The bould Brendan may be proved right in his assertion the motion was “invalid”, but to paraphrase Cllr Mike Crowe (FF), how did management let it come to this, by ignoring advice and the will of elected members?

The cavalier attitude is also evident in relation to legitimate questions. This newspaper asked recently whether the Council’s new bicycle parking infrastructure needed planning before being installed. A “stupid” question, apparently, according to a Council spokesperson. (For the record, no, they don’t require planning permission).

There was no certainty given either as to why certain locations for the bike infrastructure was chosen.

Bike racks are great and welcome and we need more, but are they part of a thought-through plan to encourage people out of their cars, or is the Council just plonking them anywhere there’s a bit of space, to placate the cycling lobby, as they plough on with the city’s bypass?

Here’s another example of the Transport Department treating the public with, to put it mildly, not a lot of respect.

It appears to be unofficial policy for some time now, that the Council no longer flags in advance roadworks, or road closures. There was a time when the travelling public was kept informed of any potential delays and disruption, but, alas, no more. Road works commenced at Upper Dominick Street on Monday, where there were lane closures at night to facilitate Gas Networks Ireland. The Council had to be prompted into confirming that letter drops took place to some businesses and residents last Friday – but the general public who use that street to traverse town, wasn’t informed.

Ditto at Headford Road inbound, where there were lanes closures and a closed bus lane at night to facilitate gas works. The closures had the potential to be quite dangerous for motorists approaching who are unaware of them.

This area “is non-residential”, the Council said, and so there were no leaflet drops but “Dunnes’ in Terryland were informed about the works”.

Asked why the public was kept in the dark, the Council said: “Lane closures are generally not advertised unless the works have the potential to cause significant disruption.”

Manners costs nothing, and neither does an advance press release to newspapers, or a social media posting, about impending traffic disruption, no matter how minor.

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

CITY TRIBUNE

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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