The April meeting of Galway City Council was a long and arduous affair but it was ultimately a productive one. We sat at 2.00pm and finished at the mandatory time of 8.45pm. I intend to bring forward a motion to allow the procedures committee to change the rules to allow for a later finishing time when required. Work should finish when work is done is my belief.
To be fair many other councillors are of the same mind so we agreed to have an extra meeting on April 23 commencing at 2pm to facilitate clearing what was admittedly a huge agenda.
The first positive to report is that the new policy of only allowing queries on the minutes to be submitted in writing is working wonderfully well. We did not waste any time on minutes and the discussion on same lasted no more than ten minutes last night. This compares most favourably to the two hours and 45 minutes spend discussing minutes in the recent past.
First item of note was the finalising of the proposed material alterations to the Draft Ardaun Local Area Plan. There was a long debate on this crucially important matter. Ardaun will effectively become a whole new townland behind the Galway Clinic and become home to up to 20,000 people in the long run. It is now cleared to progress to the next stage and we should see badly needed development of this area in the near future.
The financial statement from 2017 was discussed in detail and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Some concerns regarding the collection of parking charges, installation of parking meters, fines for dog fouling and the levy collected on derelict sites were raised. However, notwithstanding that some issues do exist in these areas, the level of collections and financial management was in the main praised by all. Confidence in the financial probity and competence is of crucial importance in running a city or indeed any organisation and effusive praise was quite correctly directed towards the team in Finance.
Slight alterations to the scheme of house letting and allocations was agreed which should benefit some elderly people in need of appropriate housing. Appointments to the audit committee were passed with the minimum of fuss.
Two big ticket items, both in my own area were given the go ahead to progress to the next stage. The Draft Recreation And Amenity Plan for South Park was given the green light to progress. This involves the provision of walkways, sports facilities, playground space and a skateboard park in South Park. This has been on the agenda for some time and has been tweaked time and time again in order to facilitate the concerns of various stakeholders. The balance now seems to be right and it was given the green light.
Next up was the Recreation and Amenity Master Plan for the Kingston lands. This plan is focused on a strip of land between Kingston and Knocknacarra and is to be developed into a public facility in the near future. It involves the provision of walkways, parkland, sports facilities, dressing rooms, and playground space and was initially the subject of much local opposition.
After many and repeated representations and meetings with local area councillors, a revised plan was agreed. This plan seems to meet the needs of the majority and will now be put out for further public consultation. A meeting will be held on this plan on April 19 and all interested stakeholders should make their views known on this revised plan on that date.
It is hard to disseminate the contents and outcomes of a six hour meeting into a short column. Council meetings are open to the public and are a matter of public record. I encourage all interested parties to attend City Council meetings. These are your meetings and involve your public representatives. Indeed it may be an eye opener for some!
We had a 24-item agenda that was impossible to navigate in one meeting. I proposed we meet again on April 23 to continue with the April agenda and this was easily passed.
So there you have it. Great albeit, steady progress is being made and we will stay with it until agendas are completed. That is what we were elected to do. Anything else is simply attention-seeking and only facilitates the desire of certain individuals to get headlines.
My view and that of the overwhelming majority of councillors is that we must continue in our drive to become more businesslike and productive in our approach to meetings especially by not wasting time. After all it is your time that is wasted.
I believe we are making real progress in this endeavour.
Follow me - Facebook: www.facebook.com/MayorPearceFlannery/ Twitter: @PearceFlannery