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Our View: There plenty of good reasons for moving ministries out of the city centre

Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis

NICOSIA Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis has been complaining again. This time he has taken exception to information about the possibility of ministry offices and other departments of the state sector leaving the boundaries of his municipality, describing it as a “completely unacceptable situation.”

This situation would “deal an irreparable blow to the viability” of the capital’s commercial centre, said the mayor in a statement in which he urged the government to operate within the regulations of the Nicosia local plan. Speaking later to a website, Yiorkadjis said the government would be violating the regulations of the Nicosia plan by allowing ministry offices to re-locate outside the commercial centre. The regulations should not be scrapped because of the recession he said, adding that the state needed to comply with regulations and policies.

He may have a point and the government might not be going about the matter in the right way, but conditions change and town plans, which are not written in stone, should be adapted accordingly. For instance, if the state can cut its rent expenditure by relocating ministry buildings outside the city centre then why should it not do so? Why should it be obliged to carry on paying premium rents at a time like this?

In fact there are other good reasons for moving ministries out of the city centre. This would not only ease the traffic congestion, making it easier for people to drive through the centre but also free up parking spaces which are currently in short supply. Furthermore, it would help other Nicosia district municipalities which also need the extra business that ministry building would bring. Why should Nicosia municipality be the only one to benefit?

But it seems Yiorkadjis believes that the whole country has an obligation to help only his municipality. A few months ago, the mayor raised a big fuss about plans of the Mall of Cyprus, in Latsia, to expand, arguing that this would lead to a further decline of the capital’s shopping centre. The idea that a business should be prevented from expanding because this would affect commercial activity in another municipality is plainly daft, especially in a market economy.

We did not hear the mayor of Engomi complaining because most of the bar and club business had moved to the Nicosia town centre. This was a big success by Yiorkadjis whose relaxing of restrictive regulations turned the once struggling old town into thriving centre buzzing with life from morning till late at night. There may be empty shops but the cafes, bars and restaurant are always are packed at all hours. The capital has never been busier and Yiorkadjis should take pride in what the lifting of restrictions has achieved, instead of trying to impose them on others.

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