Cllr Colette Connolly, member of the Environment SPC, says that Galway City Council is not being proactive enough in taking action to address the issue of derelict sites in the city.
Currently, there are only 19 sites on the Registar under the Derelict Sites Act 1990, which lays out the procedures a local authority can take get owners to take measures to get rid of the dereliction. GCC inspected over 90 properties in 2016 and 70 so far this year. However, Cllr Connolly says that GCC is not using the full extent of the power given to them under the Act Section 14, which states that a ‘Local Authority may acquire by agreement or compulsorily any derelict site situated within their functional area’. So far the Council have used this Section to CPO two housing units in Ballybane.
Cllr Connolly says she asked for the issue to be listed on the Environment SPC Agenda last week and expected a more detailed report from the executive outlining the action that has been taken, but the report provided lacked the information she and other members of the SPC sought.
“Indeed, some sites in the city are derelict for more than 20 years so it is difficult to concur with the executive when they claim they are being proactive,” says Cllr Connolly.
“There are three sites alone on Helen St, then there are the larger sites such as Taaffes and the Corrib Great Southern that require urgent action not to mention several properties in Salthill.”
Cllr Connolly says that it is extremely interesting that in the last 15 months, Louth County Council was able to acquire over 35 housing units, with a further 30 properties being processed using the Compulsory Purchase powers of the Housing Act 1996 to acquire vacant non derelict homes. Cllr Connolly says she raised this issue with the Director of Services at the meeting but received no explanation as to why Galway does not use these powers.
Ultimately, Cllr Connolly says that Galway City Council is much too soft on the issue and finds it incredible that the executive claim it is impossible on occasion to identify the owners of such properties. Cllr Connolly got no clarification as to why the Revenue or Land Registry offices cannot be used to supply these details. “Surely, a local authority must be able to access this information,” she concluded.