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Kritou Terra mayor resigns in protest at municipal consolidation

Kritou Terra village council building
File photo

Consolidation into larger municipalities will handicap village communities, ex-mayor of Kritou Terra, Dervis Charalambous said on Tuesday.

The mayor and three of the four members of the village community council submitted their resignations to the Paphos district officer on Monday, in protest against the restructuring of local community governance, approved by Parliament in March last year.

Speaking to Cyprus Mail Charalambous said the inclusion of the community into the greater Polis Chrysochous municipality was nonsensical and politically driven. The move would hamper the efficient handling of issues currently dealt with quickly and autonomously by the communities themselves, Charalambous said.

The ex-mayor cited as an example how he recently dealt immediately with an inclement weather-related problem resulting in a village power outage, by getting up at 4am and being on the ground to phone and oversee a prompt response so that by 6am the problem was fixed.

“With the re-structure, the local deputy mayor, now a salaried, paid subordinate to the Polis mayor, will have to wait for working hours to start, then be faced with procedures, paperwork, and bureaucracy. Who knows how long it would take for such a local problem to be resolved?” Charalambous asked.

The ex-mayor stated his conviction that the needs and interests of Polis Chrysochous and other coastal areas bore little resemblance or relation to the needs and issues of mountainous communities seven kilometres away.

Charalambous noted that the community of Kritou Terra wished to be included in a cluster of Laona region communities and not in the municipality of Polis, and that a referendum among residents had showed they were overwhelmingly in favour of this position.

“What people need to understand is that no mayor of a small community is in it for personal gain,” Charalambous said.

Charalambous, who held the position of mayor in Kritou Terra for 11 years, said he had not been paid for the first four, and that the €500 compensation for the role was essentially symbolic.

The ex-mayor, who had moved away to start a business in Nicosia, was motivated to retire early and return to his village to try and keep it alive, he told Cyprus Mail, following a study that showed it was becoming a ghost village as younger generations were abandoning it.

“I left my four children and seven grandchildren in Nicosia and came here, out of love for this place,” Charalambous said.

“The muhtar of a small community is like a first responder. The role is about knowing everyone, having relationships, even knowing which elderly person had a fall and broke their leg, and jumping in wherever needed. This is what needs to be understood by the powers that be,” Charalambous said.

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