By Maria Gregoriou
THE NICOSIA district court has rejected Strovolos Municipality’s application to demolish a wheelchair ramp outside a pharmacy, which was built without permission.
Judge Sophia Kleopa Hadjikyriacou who took the decision said the ramp was not a dangerous construction. “I conclude that it would be completely unfair and disproportionate relative to the gravity of the offence, to consent to the request to demolish the ramp in question,” she said.
Hadjikyriacou said it was not a case of an arbitrary and dangerous construction. “Indeed it could be one of the few cases where only by refusing to issue an order of demolition would the true spirit of the law be served,” she said in her ruling.
The head of the Paraplegics Association, Dimitris Lambrianidis who testified in court told the Cyprus Mail the association was very happy with the court’s decision.
“Judge Kyprianou should be congratulated for not following the cold letter of the law but doing what she thought was right to serve the people,” Lambrianidis said.
Referring to the municipality’s complaint that the slope of the ramp was too high and therefore dangerous, Lambrianidis said there was a ramp on the municipality’s ground floor with the same gradient.
“The height of their slope should be fixed before they take other people to court,” Lambrianidis said.
Kyprianou decided to build the ramp in 2008 when she was refurbishing the pharmacy. She called the municipality and said the building owner, Georgia Christoforou, had signed an agreement for the ramp to be built and if anything else was needed.
“I was not told that I needed a permit so I went ahead. Municipalities should have telephone recording systems because this would have proven this fact,” Kyprianou said.
According to Strovolos Mayor, Lazaros Savvides, Christoforou did take the signed permission to the municipality but later withdrew it. The case was ongoing before Savvides became mayor.
“Christoforou did give her approval and gave in a request for the ramp to be built but then removed it. After the ramp had been built she continuously complained both by telephone and in writing, that the ramp had been built without a permit,” Savvides said.
Because of the owner’s persistence, the municipality had to take Kyprianou to court, he said.
“We had to follow legislation stating that before anything was built, the property owner had to have a permit. If complaints were not constantly received, we would not have pushed for the ramp to be destroyed,” Savvides said.
Savvides said the municipality would not appeal the court’s decision.
According to Kyprianou, Christoforou had wanted to increase the rent by almost 50 per cent but Kyprianou did not agree and took her to court in 2011.
“I have been renting the building since 1996 and everything was fine until the landlady wanted to increase my rent,” she said. “I refused and she started harassing me so I went to court and won the case. I paid for the normal rate for rent increase,” Kyprianou said.