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Traffic and vacant houses the key challenges for City Council’s new Chief Executive


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Traffic and vacant houses the key challenges for City Council’s new Chief Executive Traffic and vacant houses the key challenges for City Council’s new Chief Executive

Tackling ongoing traffic congestion issues in Galway City and bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use have been highlighted as priority issues for the newly appointed Chief Executive of Galway City Council.

Leonard Cleary, who attended his first Council meeting at City Hall last week, said his 10-year term in the position would begin with a listening process involving the Mayor, elected members, local authority staff and stakeholders, including the public.

A native of Corofin in North Clare, Mr Cleary assumes the role held by Brendan McGrath from 2013 until his retirement in 2023.

“The traffic congestion issue is foremost in my mind, and this will involve continuing plans already underway to develop transport alternatives and green infrastructure and putting our shoulder to the wheel for the N6 Galway City Ring Road,” Mr Cleary said.

“We need to double our efforts to deliver the Ring Road project in a spirit of partnership and collaboration that incorporates the views of everyone in Galway City and surrounding areas.

“Notwithstanding the High Court appeal of An Bord Pleanála’s planning approval for the Ring Road project, Galway City Council is committed to working with all parties, including Galway County Council, to ensure that it progresses without delay,” he added.

Mr Cleary told elected members that he had already commenced a process of engagement with relevant government departments and that his “early discussions have focused very much on the priority of housing”.

“A key focus for me is urban regeneration, particularly renewal and repurposing of vacant properties for social and economic functions, as well as underutilised spaces for mixed use, housing and cultural activities.

“I have secured strong commitments from the Department that it will continue the good work already underway and help us with some of the challenges ahead.”

Mr. Cleary added: “Our City has opportunities to respond to digital innovation and economic diversification challenges and, to its benefit, is endowed with a skilled workforce and a vibrant start-up environment. All of this nestled in a strong arts and culture sector and diverse community.

“Through the development and implementation of a new corporate plan following the coming local election, I will work with the executive and elected members to ensure we leverage these unique traits in our promotion of Galway City as a location to invest in, visit and live, to a national and international audience.”

Mr Cleary has more than 26 years of experience in local government having held several senior leadership roles in Clare County Council, including in Housing, Tourism, Human Resources, and Community and Rural Development. He also was Ennis Town Clerk with a significant interest in urban economic regeneration.

Under his stewardship as Director of Service, Clare County Council was the first local authority in the country to produce a Rural Development Strategy supported by a full Directorate. Subsequently, he led the first dedicated Tourism Development Directorate in a local authority in the country guided by a ten-year County Tourism Strategy.

The graduate of DCU, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) also oversaw the development of a Digital Hub network across Clare, and, more recently, the transfer of the Shannon Heritage portfolio of visitor attractions from the Shannon Airport Group to Clare County Council.

Under his Tourism Development remit, Mr Cleary was responsible for the management of Clare’s leading tourism attractions including the Cliffs of Moher Experience, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Loop Head Lighthouse, and Vandeleur Walled Garden and Visitor Centre.

Pictured: Leonard Cleary, the new Chief Executive of Galway City Council. Photo Brian Arthur.


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