The final Galway City Council meeting of 2017 was held last Monday and had some interesting issues to relay to you. Three sets of Minutes again dominated the early part of the agenda taking over 75 minutes to get through. Although this is a radical improvement it continues to be a huge waste of time. If every councilor wishes to speak for three minutes and seek further clarification on each matter under discussion then we are doomed to spend considerable wasted time on non-productive matter discussing what has happened in the past at the expense of what can be done in the future.
In 2018 I hope to bring forward an amendment to the Standing Orders which will allow for only one minute contribution per councilor on matters pertaining to the minutes. If supported by other councilors this will allow us to become vastly more proactive in addressing the agenda and get considerably more work done.
The capital programme of expenditure for the next three years was presented. It was generally agreed that it was big on vision but short on actual deadlines. This is because the funding in many cases have yet to be agreed with central Government. If we achieve the majority of its contents (and we will ) Galway will have substantial capital investment programme going forward.
Another item of note was a proposed variation to the City Development Plan to remove the Kirwan Roundabout at Menlo/Tirellan and replace it with a signalised junction. Local residents mounted a vigorous campaign opposing the proposed change as they claimed it was not in the best interests of the local community.
I usually try to see the side of local residents involved in any issue. In this case there is also a bigger picture because the needs and impact on residents and businesses in Galway City itself and the needs of those from the entire west side of the city including Salthill/Knocknacarra and its environs also had to be factored in. Therefore I voted to remove the roundabout. We need to address the traffic issues in Galway. Public transport, facilitating bicycles and motorists must all be part of a holistic approach which will ultimately include the Galway City Ring Road project. Unpopular decisions sometimes have to be made.
After a considerable and passionate debate the proposal to remove the roundabout was passed by 11 votes to 7.
We also passed the resolution to allow for a Home Purchase Loan facility making finance available to our local authority of €500,000 for the purchase of housing in Galway City. This will be another small step in addressing the housing crisis. There is so much more to be done on the housing issue in 2018.
We deferred the Local Government Audit Report which was a huge body of work in itself and the submission to the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy produced by the North and West Regional Assemblys. This is a hugely important document that will have a major impact on strategy for a long time into the future and it is essential our voice is heard, clearly and unequivocally. Both will be the subject of special debate at the January 8 meeting of Galway City Council.
All in all over four hours we had a good, productive and balanced meeting. Once we can overcome the issue of getting bogged down on the minutes we can become even more productive. It has always been my ambition as Mayor to make meetings more businesslike, positive, and productive. We are getting there.
A lot done, a lot more yet to do!
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