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Aglandjia mayor one of few to support municipal mergers

Charalambos Petrides

Aglandjia mayor Charalambos Petrides said on Friday he was in favour of plans to reform the local authority system that may see his jurisdiction merge with other areas.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Petrides said it was about time municipalities were granted the authorities and resources so that they can improve their public service. He is one of the few mayors to have come out in support of the reform as most municipalities are jealously guarding their autonomy.

“In Cyprus with a population of one million you cannot have around 370 local administration entities (municipalities and communities),” he said.

The reform proposed by the interior ministry could see about half of the island’s 30 municipalities go. Some 340 community administrations would also have to become parts of a broader jurisdiction.

“What’s important is not with which municipality we will join but to have the powers, to be given the resources and power to be local authorities, building and town-planning authorities and have municipal police with important powers,” he said.

He added that he was not opposed to the mergers as long as the next day local authorities are in a better position to serve residents.

The reform provides for far-reaching changes, which would essentially translate into less central government.

The plan presented by the ministry provides for about 15 municipalities and also includes rules on future mergers with adjacent communities or a merger between communities and their conversion into a municipality.

The municipalities will be granted the administration of state facilities such as nurseries, nursing homes, etc, as well as powers relating to public transport to supplement the current system.

They will also be granted more planning authorities and take over a number of permits currently issued by district administrations.

Municipalities will be obliged to draft and approve balanced or surplus budgets, in line with legislation governing fiscal issues.

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