Cyprus Mail

Paphos clean-up campaign embraced by residents

An illegal bar being bulldozed

A campaign to undo irregularities and tear down illegal structures in Paphos is proceeding well and being increasingly embraced by the public, mayor Phedonas Phedonos said on Tuesday.

Speaking on state radio, Phedonos said decades’ worth of illegality piled up and made the town an eyesore, but the municipality’s determination to do away with the lax attitudes of the past is gradually paying off, despite initial resistance.

“Unfortunately, there are too many illegalities,” he said.

“Over the last few decades everyone turned a blind eye, and in the end all of these minor irregularities added up to an eyesore. Tourists, visitors, even us as citizens, we have been seeing slums.”

In addition to tearing down illegal extensions to existing establishments in busy commercial areas like Kato Paphos, the municipality has also clamped down on a host of other unlicensed activities.

“We have removed over 1,400 billboards from across the town,” Phedonos said.

“Everyone had turned the roof of their home to an advertising space, without a license – streets, sidewalks, even common areas, were flooded with billboards.”

Large supermarket owners have also been taken to court, the Paphos mayor added, because they have been operating for 15 years without a final approval from the town-planning department.

“Only two of them have this,” Phedonos said.

“The rest operate on the verge of illegality. And the reason they don’t get them, of course, is because they have illegal extensions to their premises. In order to get a final approval, the on-site inspection must match the building’s blueprints exactly, and because they don’t, the case is left to ‘sleep’ for years.”

Further, Phedonos said, the municipality has issued 86 citations to kiosks for selling items they are not allowed to sell, including bread, as well as illegal structures.

“But the truly pleasant surprise is that the vast majority of citizens, to the tune of over 80 per cent, approve of the policy, and even a majority of offenders, to the tune of over 60 per cent, accept it, provided it is done indiscriminately.”

Meanwhile, the Paphos mayor lashed out once more against recycling organisation Green Dot, after a public row between him and CEO Mike Spanos last month had appeared to have been defused.

“At some point, after I had said something against Green Dot, Mr Mike Spanos came out and said they would take me to court over what I said,” Phedonos said.

“Even some channels had reported that Green Dot is taking the Paphos mayor to court. It turned out to have been an empty threat. They did not file a lawsuit against me.”

The only thing that has happened since, Phedonos continued, was that, based on evidence furnished by him and others, auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides launched a probe and Green Dot now runs the risk of losing its licence.

“It is at risk of losing its operating licence for not meeting its contractual obligations towards every municipality in Cyprus – namely, to collect and recycle all materials, with the exception of newspapers and magazines, without charging municipalities for the service,” Phedonos said.

“And I hope the bill on producer responsibility is passed by September.”

The bill on producer responsibility incorporates the environmental cost of products into their market price, meaning the producer would have to bear the cost of collecting and recycling them.

“Or, should I say, I hope the parties are allowed to pass it, because there is going to be substantial pressure and lobbying by publishers,” Phedonos explained.

“I call on publishers to come out ahead of the curve, support and take on the cost of producer responsibility, so that the system is forced to undertake collection of newspapers and magazines, too.”

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