By Bejay Browne
QUESTIONS are being raised in the House after officials alleged that harbour police refused a request from Peyia municipality to help remove a number of large boats without permits from an ‘illegal’ harbour. They are also questioning the legal status of the facility.
Peyia Municipality recently undertook a two pronged operation to clear local beaches of operators illegally renting speedboats and other vessels and sun beds and umbrellas, all without paying fees to the municipality.
According to Peyia local councillor, Linda Leblanc, the municipality asked the police and harbour police for support; the harbour police refused. She said that this lack of support and clarity over the legal status of the ‘marina’ meant that the second part of the operation fell flat.
“Parliamentary questions over the incident are now being raised by Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis. These include the port police’s alleged refusal to help with the operation and the actual standing of the illegal harbour,” she said.
The first phase of the operation saw sun beds and umbrellas successfully being removed from Coral Bay after years of permits remained unpaid, amounting to around 100,000 euros.
The second phase – aimed at removing a number of vessels, including speedboats, which are mostly hired out to tourists, from a small harbour at the next beach along – was described by Leblanc as a ‘fiasco.’
“The owner of the boats appeared to have been tipped off and arrived at the scene and we were unable to extract any of the property as we didn’t have the correct equipment and there was a lack of back up.”
Leblanc says the incident brought to light the fact that the municipality has no legal rights over vessels in the water and the harbour police were unwilling to help.
The councillor noted that this is the first time that any such operation had been undertaken by the municipality and went ahead only after pressure by the central beaches committee.
“The council had recently voted to allow the illegalities to remain as they are for this year but the new national beaches committee refused to accept this and gave us two weeks to sort out the illegalities or face a fine of 1,700 euros. So the municipality then acted.”
Leblanc said that the mayor has been angered by the failure of the operation and the council has vowed to get to the bottom of the issue.
“Every year we discuss action and no one has the courage to enforce the law. There seem to be vested interests and a fear about retribution for enforcing the law at Coral Bay.”
The municipality confiscated around 100-120 sun beds and accompanying umbrellas as part of the operation, according to the head of the Peyia beaches committee Nikkos Konnikos.
“There were about five licences which remained unpaid. This equates to about 1,000 euros a day in income for the municipality. Some of the licences date back to 1985. Some haven’t paid for over a decade.”
He said around 50 per cent of those owing money had now paid the entire amount. He noted that the income generated for the municipality by the permits is over three hundred thousand euros a year.
“From next year the municipality will be responsible for operating the beaches anyway so at least we will know that we will have a regular income,” he said.
Of the failed part of the operation, Leblanc said that even though the ‘marina’ is illegal, it seems as if the municipality doesn’t have any legal redress over boats moored there, despite being responsible for unpaid fees.
“The council has always been presented with the illegalities at Coral Bay and the marina as a package and were given clear instructions by Nicosia. But it seems the beaches committee may have thought the boats were on the beach and not in the water.”
The local council along with the Green party is now investigating and questioning the legality of the harbour area.
“We are now researching the permits and background. There is a distinct lack of transparency. A permit was given for an anchorage, which is not a marina or a harbour.”