Labour Party members in Galway have backed a motion from city councillor Colette Connolly condemning the decision of the Galway City Council to rezone the former T O’hUiginn site at Rahoon Road to a District Neighbourhood Centre.
This change in zoning allows the owner to apply for planning permission for a major hypermarket on the site.
At a well attended meeting of the constituency council of the Labour Party, the representative forum for ordinary party members, participants expressed anger at the decision.
Members argued that rather than creating jobs, the proposed development would lead to job losses by displacement of existing employment.
A spokesman referred to recent studies in the UK illustrating that for each 100 so called ‘new jobs’ being created, 170 jobs in competitor businesses are lost. The spokesperson added that “competition is in fact greatly reduced as the smaller shops and supermarkets close or scale back”.
Labour estimates that the proposed hypermarket development could result in “up to 400 existing retail workers in Galway losing their jobs”.
The meeting noted how following widespread consultation with community groups during 2009/10, Galway Labour submitted proposals for improved transport solutions for the city.
These proposals included the long overdue completion to the inner city bypass, with the current improvements to Seamus Quirke Road designed to finally remove a major traffic bottleneck.
“The proposed hypermarket development however will do much to negate the €15 million that the taxpayer is contributing to this project,” said a party spokesperson.
The party is also concerned about the level of traffic such a development could generate.
“Using the Headford Road Shopping Centre as reference, each parking space is utilised for less than 40 minutes on average,” said the spokesperson. “The new development seeks 460 parking spaces and anticipates 12 hour peak operation. Traffic flows of up to 690 per hour or 8,000 per day per day can be expected.”
Labour members said they “welcome well planned investment in the city that leads to sustainable job creation” but that this hypermarket “does not represent such a development”.