By Bejay Browne
PEYIA MUNICIPALITY has closed the two kiosks serving Coral Bay beach and have installed around-the-clock security after they discovered that the new operator had failed to sign the necessary paperwork or hand over a deposit before opening to the public, according to officials.
The new operator was mistakenly handed keys by municipal staff, and was operating the kiosks without fulfilling the terms of the contract, said Peyia councillor Linda Leblanc.
She said that a Nicosia based businessman recently won the bid to operate two lucrative kiosks that would have netted a considerable income for the municipality. However, Leblanc said that he has paid nothing.
“After the tender process, we awarded the operation of the kiosks to a Nicosia businessman at the end of April. The agreement was for 1.5 million for five years. He was supposed to come in and sign at the end of April, but there were some delays and he kept promising to come in and sign.”
So far he has failed to do so and has been operating the kiosks illegally for around two months. “There has been a stink at the municipality as someone gave him the key and this shouldn’t have happened,” she said.
Meanwhile, a squabble has broken out between municipal employees and the local council over who authorised the handing over of the key.
According to the agreed terms of the contract, the businessman should have handed over 200,000 euros on signing the contract and the balance – 100,000 euros – should have been paid during the season. The contract awarded is for 300,000 euros a year over a five year period, totalling 1.5 million euros.
“He has paid nothing, and the council estimates that he is making around 3,000-4,000 euros a day from both kiosks. It’s half way through the season and we haven’t earned a penny from the kiosks,” she said.
The beds and umbrellas at Coral Bay are operated by the municipality, and Leblanc, along with a number of other councillors, are suggesting that they take over the operation of the kiosks as well.
In the meantime, a number of emergency council meetings have been held and a letter was sent to the operator, insisting he sign the contract and pay the money due by Friday, July 3. When he had not done so by July 6, a vote to cancel the tenders was taken.
Aother emergency council meeting was held last Friday when the businessman’s lawyer proposed he pay 100,000 euros immediately and stay until the end of August. The offer was invalid, said Leblanc, because it violated the terms of his contract, and anyway, the tenders had been cancelled.
“Last Saturday, we went down and re-occupied the property of the municipality, as permitted by law. Everything is now locked and closed and we have installed a private security company 24 hours a day. We have given him a few days to remove any of his belongings, if he doesn’t we will go with the police, make an inventory and it will be taken away and stored somewhere.”
The municipality has rushed through a new tender process and any new bids will be opened and examined on Thursday afternoon.
“We should have a new company in place on Saturday. We have also put various conditions in place; if bids aren’t high enough to satisfy the public interest then we are not obliged to accept them.”
Leblanc said that the municipality has already suffered a huge loss of income from the debacle and that new operators would be in place until mid-November.
Municipality staff are positioned just outside the kiosks to provide services to the public including cold drinks.