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Cyprus

Fatal hit-and-run raises safety issues in Peyia

Flowers and Welsh flags at the spot where Charlie Birch was killed (Joy Neiger)

A group of Peyia officials, residents and business owners are requesting a permanent police presence and other measures on the busy Coral Bay strip to curb excessive drinking and unruly behaviour especially in the busy summer months.

The group will deliver a letter to the mayor of Peyia, Marinos Lambrou, with a number of suggestions which they hope will be implemented, according to Peyia councillor Andreas Christodouolou, 29.

Christodoulou, who was elected on the “Peyia Young Initiative” ticket, told the Sunday Mail this week that the fatal alleged deliberate hit-and-run last weekend shocked everyone and that the authorities must do more to protect the public.

Last Sunday, British holidaymaker, Charlie Birch, 39, a British tourist from Welshpool in Powys, died in what appears to be a deliberate hit-and-run incident. He was hit by a car driving at speed at around 2.30am while walking along the Ayios Georgios road in Peyia with his brother-in-law, Bill Pritchard, 32, who was also injured.

The fatality occurred after the victims and other customers at a busy bar on the Coral Bay strip had been involved in an altercation with a man who was abusing his girlfriend.

The man and woman were located and arrested just hours after Birch’s death. The woman has since been released.

“There must be measures to try and prevent such a terrible tragedy happening again in the future,” Christodoulou said.

The first request is to establish a police ‘kiosk’ on the Coral Bay strip which would be open for as many hours each day as possible but especially between the hours of 7pm to 2am.

Earlier this week, the young councillor had a brief discussion with Peyia police to put forward his suggestion, and they commented that as there are not many officers in Peyia, this move would need the support of Paphos police to make it viable.

“A police kiosk would be helpful in a number of ways. It would act as a deterrent for bad and unsociable behaviour in the area, and if there was a fight or altercation, it could be stopped by the police at the start, before it has a chance to escalate,” he said.

The second suggestion is to request from the mayor that two community policemen should be mobilised on bicycles to patrol the area and act as security for Peyia.

Christodoulou has already held a number of meetings this week with locals, including Cypriot and British residents and concerned local businesses. They all have worries over safety, excessive drinking and illegal drug taking, which is commonly known to take place in Coral Bay, particularly along the tourist strip.

The head of Paphos traffic police, Zenon Psathites, said that in all of the well-known tourist areas of the district, many people are caught drink driving, and it was common knowledge that drugs are available too.

“Most of the drivers over the limit are permanent residents of all nationalities, as well as Cypriots and also a small number of tourists,” he said.

Christodoulou said that officials and residents were all worried about the incident.

‘We will give the mayor our suggested measures for the council to discuss and hope they will be accepted,” he said.

 

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