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Cyprus

Beach beds confiscated by local authority

By Bejay Browne

Yeroskipou municipality in Paphos has confiscated sunbeds and umbrellas from beach operators who have not paid their licence fees for this year.

Nicos Lupidis, the general secretary of the municipality said that despite repeated requests to two of the beach operators to clear outstanding fees which he said were long overdue, payments were not forthcoming.

Decisive measures had to be taken, he said. The sunbeds and umbrellas were confiscated on Wednesday morning when authorities swooped in at 5.30am with police and took them away.

“We had repeatedly asked them for their licence fee and had also warned them recently that further measures would be taken. These beaches are working and have customers and the fees need to be paid,” said Lupidis.

Each operator is charged €5,000 plus VAT for the licence which allows them to operate for the summer period, which commenced in May.

“We have given out five separate licences to different operators for the 2013 season. This means they can put sunbeds and umbrellas on specific areas of the municipal beach. Three of them have paid the fees, (plus VAT), the others did not,” said Lupidis.

He said the confiscated beach equipment was being stored “in a safe place”. Paying the full amount was the only way to restore their licences, he added.

If the beach operators don’t pay up, the municipality will start procedures against them to retrieve the outstanding amounts.

“Everybody is experiencing economic problems now, individuals, banks, businesses and also municipalities,” said Lupidis.

Other businesses in the municipality, including hotels, are also in the firing line, as the local authority cracks down on more unpaid fees.

“We are experiencing some problems with hotels which have yet to pay their occupancy tax,” said Lupidis. “The hotels are full now and yet some have outstanding dues.”

Lupidis says the amount payable is based on how many stars a hotel is awarded. The maximum for a five-star hotel is one euro per day for each guest over 13 years of age. This revenue is needed by the municipality, he said.

The hotels are being given a grace period to pay and clear their debts, but if not, measures will be taken to recoup the money.

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