Cyprus Mail

Peyia’s battle of the billboards

By Bejay Browne

A NUMBER of local businesses in Peyia are complaining that their advertising signs have been taken down and confiscated by the municipality without any prior warning.

They say a lack of co-ordination by Peyia municipality has meant that no real record has been kept for which signs are legal and which are not.

Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc said that a concerted effort is being made by the municipality, which got underway earlier this year, to start taking down illegal signs and billboards, following pressure from the government.

“The Troika is now going after local authorities and we have been informed that there is far too much illegal advertising and this is lost revenue,” she said. “People with signs should be paying, so there is a certain amount of pressure from Nicosia.”

However, the managing director of Peyia Medical centre, Nicky Gibson, said not all of the signs being confiscated are illegal.
“We were never sent an invoice for our legal signs and they were just taken away,” she said.

The owners of the new business venture say they went to the local municipality to purchase advertising space on the legally allocated boards and even took pictures of the ones they wanted to feature on.

“We realised how disorganised the department was, it was a mess. They didn’t seem to know which boards were where, have a proper record or be keeping track of what was legal and what was illegal,” she said.

Gibson said the medical centre made an agreement to purchase space for a number of signs at around 40 euros each. They were informed they would be sent an invoice and payment could be made after that. It never arrived.

“Last August all of our signs were pulled down, without warning, and thrown in a van and taken to Peyia council storage. It caused great damage to our business,” Gibson, adding that it made no sense to take away the signs of a business which was happy to pay and yet leave massive illegal billboards everywhere.

Eventually, the signs were replaced and Gibson called the municipality in January this year to remind them to send an invoice.

“We didn’t want to be left in the same situation again. I had to call numerous times; we finally got the invoice at the beginning of July!”

Leblanc said that she had dealt with other complaints from businesses which had seen their legal adverts disappear overnight.

She said that the municipality needed to be far better organised.

“The chaos of illegal signs creates an unattractive image for Peyia, they’re very ugly,” she said. “Earlier this year, we started taking down illegal signs and billboards .This was done for signs which were obstructing pavements or impairing the view of drivers.

“You have to have a permit for a sign displayed in a public place. It’s a different matter if it’s on privately owned land.”
Gibson agrees that massive illegal signs should be removed but argued advertisers need a solution.

“The council would make more money and offer a better service with better organisation. There are plenty of suitable places for more legal signs to be erected,” she said.

Paul Collins also has a local business in the area and admits that he placed a number of illegal advertising signs around Peyia, including a number of free standing sign boards. But he said no notice was given that they would be removed.

“There was no warning at all and my number is on the advert. They just confiscated them as I didn’t have a permit.”

He said he is now paying for his signs and they are all legal but added that more space needed to be created in the area for legal adverts.

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