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Connacht Tribune

Work begins on €8 estate million regeneration

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Works are to commence next week on a controversial development in Tuam that includes the demolition of a number of Traveller houses and provision of an €8 million regeneration in its place.

But Cathaoirleach of Tuam Municipal Council, Cllr Donagh Killilea said that it would not be a case of “replacing like with like”. He said that Gilmartin Road in Tuam would have a new look as well as new tenants.

The residents in Gilmartin Road who have been relocated to various estates across the county will not be returning. Cllr Killilea said that the new homes would be occupied mainly by young couples.

Galway County Council have plans to regenerate Gilmartin Road in Tuam. This involves the demolition of around 30 existing dwellings and the development of 40 houses in their place. It is a move that has been welcomed locally.

The estate has been mainly occupied by members of the Travelling community over the years who are now being relocated to other estates around the county.

It is the intention of Galway County Council to create a ‘new estate’ in which new two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses will be provided that will accommodate young couples, single occupants or small families in the town.

At the end of last year the contract for the redevelopment of Gilmartin Road was signed by Council officials and the appointed contractors. As of this week there has been restricted access to the road to allow for demolition works to commence.

When completed, it will result in a complete transformation of Gilmartin Road with the construction of 40 new houses and the refurbishment of more than 20 others as part of the biggest development ever to take place since the estate was built in the 1950s.

But there has been criticism of level of investment in the project. When there were works carried out on the refurbishment of houses in Gilmartin Road around 15 years ago, it resulted in the homes falling into a state of dilapidation within a few years of these revamps taking place.

There is a lot of local opposition to almost €8 million being spent on another regeneration programme in Gilmartin Road on the basis of past experiences.

But Cllr Donagh Killilea said that what happened in the past was unacceptable but he was now being assured that the same would not happen again. He has also supported calls for an estate management plan to be put in place in the aftermath of the new development.

“At the moment we are looking at site clearance works taking place over the next couple of weeks to allow the development to commence.

“I am aware of the criticisms that are out there but I have been assured by Galway County Council that there will not be a return to the situation of old.

“The new houses that will be constructed are mainly two-bedroom and three-bedroom so we are looking at a situation in which we will have new tenants. Those of have been relocated from the estate will not be returning,” Cllr Killilea added.

It is understood that the developers are hoping to complete some of the new houses by the end of this year with the whole estate taking on a new look by this time next year.

Connacht Tribune

Fuel for thought as we try and energise our wheels

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

A good few years back . . . well probably even decades . . . I remember asking quite a knowledgeable motoring correspondent, long gone to his eternal reward, about the pros and cons of staying with petrol or switching to diesel. By the time his reply had finished, nearly 20 minutes had elapsed, and I was avalanched with so much data that I was no wiser at the end of the conversation than I was at the start.

I thought of that a few weeks before Christmas when I happened to tune in to a programme on Channel 4 – Dispatches – which examined the practicalities of owning and driving an electric car across the roads of the United Kingdom.

There is a wish amongst all of us to pursue a more environmentally friendly way of life. At this stage, we all probably know someone who has purchased a fully electric car and certainly many more who have dipped their toes into the waters of the hybrid models.

Anyway, the main theme of the Dispatches programme was that after 10-years of investment by the UK authorities in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars, quite a shocking number of charging points were either out of action or were not working to their full efficiency.

Nearly 10% of the ‘rapid chargers’ sampled across the UK were found not to be working properly, while 30 new ultra-rapid charges were also found to be dysfunctional to varying degrees. Some of the charging points had been out of action for six years and a percentage of those were unrepairable as their technology base was now obsolete.

Apart from their significant extra cost – even if one qualifies for the maximum €5,000 Government grant – the great fear I would have with the electric cars is that I’d find myself marooned in a corner of Kerry or Antrim, out of ‘juice’, and unable to access a charging point.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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