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Connacht Tribune

Traffic is ‘strangling’ Galway’s business

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Galway is being “slowly strangled by traffic congestion, and a new survey has found 80% of the business community believe it is having a negative impact on trade.

The research by business representative group Galway Chamber, found that 80% of businesses surveyed believe that traffic is having a ‘somewhat negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on business.

Parking in the city and suburbs was also a key issue raised by businesses – leading to a renewed call for funding for the Galway Transport Strategy.

“When asked to identify the top local issues facing business right now the overwhelming biggest problem is – not surprisingly – traffic congestion, with over 80% saying that it was having a ‘somewhat negative’ or ‘very negative’ effect on them.

“This was followed by recruitment of staff and parking in Galway City or suburbs,” the report reads.

Chamber President Dave Hickey renewed a call for the Galway Transport Strategy – a €1 billion scheme which includes the Galway City Ring Road (commonly referred to as the ‘outer bypass’), and a plan to restrict access across the Salmon Weir Bridge, Eglinton Street and Williamsgate Street to buses, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists.

“We’re not surprised that traffic congestion is the biggest local issue for business by far. Galway is being strangled slowly by its traffic problems and we are again calling on Government to ensure that the Galway Transport Strategy is funded from 2019 onwards.

“We also want Galway City Council to engage immediately with the public and businesses on the detailed plans for the implementation of the strategy,” said Mr Hickey.

The survey was carried out in late June amongst Galway Chamber’s 400 members – 112 responses were received.

Other plans set out in the Galway Transport Strategy include a City Centre Access Route – a two-way inner-orbital route from the Quincentenary Bridge to the Headford Road junction, Cemetery Cross, the Moneenageisha junction, Lough Atalia, the Docks, Wolfe Tone Bridge, St Mary’s Road and back onto Quinentenary Bridge.

The Inner-City Access Route is another two-way route, linking Lough Atalia to the N6 (at the Headford Road junction) via Fairgreen Road, Bóthar Uí hEithir, Prospect Hill, Bóthar na mBan and the Headford Road.

A new pedestrian bridge alongside the Salmon Weir Bridge is also proposed.

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Connacht Tribune

Unauthorised developments in County Galway go unchecked for months

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The Planning Enforcement Section of Galway County Council is so understaffed that complaints of unauthorised developments are not being investigated for months, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

In one case, a complaint alleging a house was under construction in a picturesque and environmentally sensitive part of Conamara without planning permission was not investigated by the Council for at least six months.

And it can be revealed that there is a ‘large’ backlog of complaints of unauthorised developments in the county, which the Planning Enforcement Section at County Hall has blamed on staff shortages, according to correspondence obtained by the Connacht Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).

In response to repeated requests by a concerned member of the public to intervene and investigate an allegation of unauthorised development in an environmentally protected area of Conamara, the Council’s Planning Department indicated it was too stretched.

“Unfortunately, the planning enforcement section is experiencing a period of prolonged staff shortages and consequently there are a large number of files awaiting investigation/review,” it said.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Access Centre provides pathways to University of Galway for the disadvantaged

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Photo of Imelda Byrne

Great leaps have been made in recent years to make access to tertiary level education a realistic prospect for once marginalised groups in society.

With the deadline for CAO applications approaching next week, the Access Centre at the University of Galway is aiming to reach as many underrepresented groups as possible ahead of next academic term.

Head of the Access Centre, Imelda Byrne (pictured), said research has shown that those who once felt third level ‘wasn’t for them’ are increasing their presence at UG, and bringing a richness to the sector that had for a long time been missing.

In the five years up to 2021, there was a 100% increase in the number of students registering for the Disability Support Service at the university, while those coming from Further Education and Training courses in institutes like GTI had surged by 211% over four years.

“The message that we really need to get out there is that the CAO is not the only route into third level. There are a number of pathways,” says Imelda.

“There are loads of places set aside for students coming from a place of disadvantage,” she continues, whether it’s national schemes such as the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) for socio-economic disadvantage; or the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE); or the university’s own programme for mature students.

Those places are there to ensure those from all backgrounds get an opportunity to reach their education potential, tapping into hugely talented groups that once may have missed that opportunity.

“What we have seen is that when they get that opportunity, they do just as well if not better than other students,” continues Imelda.

For HEAR and DARE scheme applicants, and for those hoping to begin higher education as a mature student, next Wednesday’s CAO deadline is critically important.

But beyond the CAO applications, the Access Programme will open up in March to guide prospective students, whatever challenges they are facing, into third level.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council ‘missing out on millions’ in derelict sites levies

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Photo of Cloonabinnia House

Galway County Council is missing out on millions of euro in untapped revenue due to a failure to compile a complete Derelict Sites Register.

That’s according to Galway East Sinn Féin representative, Louis O’Hara, who this week blasted the news that just three properties across the whole county are currently listed on the register.

As a result, Mr O’Hara said the Derelict Sites Levy was not being utilised effectively as countless crumbling properties remained unregistered – the levy amounts to 7% of the market value of the derelict property annually.

The former general election candidate said Galway County Council was ill-equipped to compile a proper list of derelict sites and called on Government to provide the necessary resources to tackle the scourge of dereliction across.

“There are still only three properties listed on Galway County Council’s Derelict Sites Register . . . anyone in Galway knows that this does not reflect the reality on the ground and more must be done to identify properties, and penalise owners who fail to maintain them,” said Mr O’Hara.

The situation was compounded by the fact that the Council failed to collect any of the levies due to them in 2021.

“This is deeply concerning when we know that dereliction is a blight on our communities. Derelict sites attract rats, anti-social behaviour and dumping, and are an eyesore in many of our local towns and villages.”

“The Derelict Sites Levy should be used as a tool by local authorities to raise revenue that can then be utilised to tackle dereliction, but they are not adequately resourced to identify and pursue these property owners,” said Mr O’Hara.

(Photo: The former Cloonabinnia House Hotel is on the Derelict Sites Register).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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