By Bejay Browne
The charges against the entire community council of Kissonerga in Paphos over permits for a beach cafe, have finally been dropped, according to its head.
Community leader, George Stylianou, told the Cyprus Mail that after a series of meetings with both the Paphos District Office and the Minster of the Interior, Socratis Hasikos, it was agreed that the charges would be dropped, on condition that specific steps were taken.
The case was set for a court hearing on November 17 and Stylianou said that the council were not aware that they hadn’t legally obtained all of the correct permits to rent out the space, which is now an organised beach and café.
They had all been served with a summons to appear before the court in November to answer charges relating to ‘irregularities’ at the village’s first organised beach.
The papers related to Potima bay in Kissonerga which opened as an organised beach in April 2014, after two local businessmen won the tender from the local community council.
“We have now been told that we have to rent the piece of land – the piece with palm trees and seating- from the government first, before being able to rent it on to interested parties.”
However, the community leader said that the current tenants, Nikos Konikkos and Andreas Antoniou, would be able to open next season following assurances from the minister of the interior that all of the red tape would be competed as soon as possible.
The businessmen teamed up for the project which has cost them around 200,0000 euros so far.
Stylianou thanked the authorities for their cooperation and said: “Following meetings with the Paphos District Office and the Minister of the Interior, the charges have been dropped after direct instructions of the minister.”
He noted: “Socrates Haskios assured the council that everything would be sorted out in time for the new season and in advance of April, when the existing contractors, Andreas and Nikos, will want to open their café on the beach for the summer,” he said.
Stylianou noted that the Paphos District Office explained that although the community council has a licence for operating an organised beach at the spot,( following all of the necessary studies), the council needs a further licence which is granted by the government, allowing them to rent the space out.
“Once the current contract expires in a year’s time, we will then proceed to open the tender process for businesses who wish to operate the beach. We understand that we will be able to rent the area indefinitely but we don’t know how much the government will charge us.”
This could pose a huge problem for the village which is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, because if the government ask for too much, it won’t be viable for the council to stump up funds to cover a huge rent and make a profit.
“We wouldn’t make enough to make it worth doing. This was the subject of another discussion with the minister and we have requested that the government don’t ask for too much. It’s logical not to charge us too much, as this is good income and is critical in helping us to pay off our loans. The income is part of our financial planning to help get us out of the economic mess we’re in.”
The community leader said the village’s current predicament was due to the excessive expenditure of the previous council.
Konikkos, who is also head of Peyia municipality beaches committee and Antoniou pay around 41,000 euros per year in rent for the space.
Cash-strapped Kissonerga, which has loans of about 3.8 million euros, saw the income from the beach as an opportunity to help to stave off bankruptcy.