By Bejay Browne
A SITE visit to aid the drawn-out decision over who will finally run Peyia’s beaches was postponed on Tuesday due to bad weather.
Members of the council will visit the beaches next Tuesday instead, weather permitting.
The municipality estimates that if it ran popular beaches itself it could earn up to €1 million a year. Until now, the facilities have been rented out to local families and private businesses.
Officials who support the municipality taking over the public beaches are pressing for immediate action to be taken over Laourou beach.
The council has already decided to take over the operation of sun beds and umbrellas at Coral Bay Beach but it remains to be seen what will happen to the two so-called beach bars, both of which are licensed as kiosks.
According to officials, decisions regarding Laourou beach – which is the stretch in front of the Corallia Beach Hotel and Corallia restaurant and the adjacent beach in front of the Coral Beach Hotel – is far more complicated.
“This is a very tricky situation. There is no public access road or toilets; there are many problems and we are trying to find a solution. Fifty per cent of councillors, including me, want the municipality to take it back and there are others who think it should remain as it is,” said head of the Peyia municipality beaches committee, Nikos Konikkos.
He noted that ‘Corallia’ has been rented by the same family for decades and the beach further along has been rented by Leptos for a considerable amount of time.
“The minister of the interior informed all municipalities that we have to decide if we will open the beach operations to tenders or not; or if we will keep areas for ourselves. We have to make a decision,” Konikkos said.
Municipal councillor Linda Leblanc said that although the next local elections are two years away, they are already having an impact on Peyia council’s actions. “This situation of the beaches is taking a long time as every decision now is all about the elections. The mayor is pushing for co-operation with the big hotels in the area, but I believe we can take over the beaches on our own, this will mean a large income for the municipality which has until now gone into private pockets.”
She agreed that the situation at ‘Corallia’ is complicated and said that the current ‘owners’ are keen to keep the status quo.
“There are many illegalities there which have been tolerated for years, including bulldozing the beach. It’s been hard to get specific costs related to any work we would need to do there from the municipality and they have been rather vague. But it will be the best for the community if the municipality ran the areas.”
The councillor noted that the municipality has the capacity to build services, such as toilets there.
“We have to think of the future and any investment we make now will be negligible in the long run.”
Leblanc said it appears that the current operator is unwilling to negotiate over the use of the shore facilities (such as toilets which are on site and built by them).
Konikkos said although he has suggested the municipality takes over the running of the two lucrative kiosks at Coral Bay, the council seems to be split fifty/fifty. Coral Bay kiosks by will be probably be offered to tender, he said.
“I believe we can do this ourselves. The people running it for the last ten years haven’t really changed anything in that time and are not there most of the time. One suggestion I made was that we could run it and employ the same staff; it would bring in a good income for us.”
Although the council may be currently split over the fortunes of the beaches, the head of the beaches committee stressed that a decision must be taken either way as individuals will want to start operation from the middle of March.
He added that tenders for the water sports in the area will be opened by the end of the month.