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Paphos grapples with new order of things.

By Bejay Browne

OVER THE past two months, Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos has, according to some, brought about radical changes with his zero-tolerance clean-up, earning him both kudos and criticism for "steamrolling" his way through the town.

A municipality spokesman told the Sunday Mail the changes would be sweeping and affect all areas and all the people of Paphos. The law would be applied to everyone, he added.

"We have already taken away dozens of illegal signs and intervened in various illegal or dangerous premises, and have announced our intention to remove illegal constructions and billboards from kiosks and petrol stations. Our intention is to constantly fight all illegalities until Paphos becomes a modern, elegant and European city."

The mayor's latest 'win' for a cleaner Paphos was dismantling illegal structures from a popular blue-flagged beach that have existed for years unchecked. Faros beach, known locally as the lighthouse beach, is popular with both visitors and locals and is found off the busy tourist hub of the Tombs of the Kings Road. The beach has been awarded a blue flag and a capital coast award.

The main structure, which was built by the municipality, according to officials, is a kiosk and sells snacks and beverages. Over the years, this has illegally expanded to incorporate a covered seating area, a number of small pens with animals inside, and a pile of old stacked tyres. An area with parallel bars and other equipment was also erected and was being used by a group of youngsters to exercise.

According to a spokesman for the municipality, the area in which Faros beach is located is strictly protected since it is included in the Natura 2000 programme, which means that construction is prohibited.

"The irregularities were of such magnitude and extent that their removal was absolutely necessary," he said. "On numerous occasions, the municipality has received complaints from residents, including many British residents of Paphos, concerning inconvenience, dangerous premises, and improper animal housing facilities, outdoor fitness equipment placed arbitrarily, strange gatherings of youngsters and strange military-style exercises at night, noise and clutter and more."

Phedonos who is spearheading the municipality's clean-up campaign told the Sunday Mail: "My vision and goal for Paphos and for 2017 is the revival of Paphos. This will occur both morally with the final disappearance of the phenomena of putrefaction and corruption, and in the cultural, economic and urban fields as well."

Gone are the days of nepotism and rusfeti which were rife in previous administrations, he said, stressing that no-one would receive any favours from him, and everyone would be treated in accordance with the law.

"I believe in equality and treating everyone the same," he added, referring to the Faros clean-up. "Nobody has special treatment with me. I believe in one ideology and I will follow that through."

The spokesman said that as well as the complaints received, the tenant had been warned several times to immediately remove the irregularities, and that eventually, the municipality had to intervene to 'restore legitimacy and protect its citizens.'

Nicos Similides the head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee said: "Almost everything there was illegal and had been allowed to go on for years. A few years ago the municipality built the kiosk which is the only structure permitted there. Everything which was illegal has been cleared away."

As Paphos grapples with the new order of authority, the majority of residents are supporting the new mayor's firm grip on the town.

Sandra Roberts has lived close to Faros beach for a decade and visits the area a few times a week. She thinks the move is a huge improvement for the area.

"It was a shambolic mess before and I think once everyone gets used to the new look and the sand is smooth again from where the vehicles came, it will be fine. It was awful before, the animals smelled and the whole thing had an air of dirt and untidiness. You can see the lighthouse properly now from the beach, and it feels a much bigger and more open space. I really like it."

Holidaymakers Joan and Robert Carmichael have holidayed in Paphos for the last 20 years, staying at nearby hotel apartments. They agreed.

"We love this beach and the walk from here to the harbour. It looks so much tidier now and although they need a bit more shade, I much prefer the new look. Well done to the mayor, and we also hope he does something about smartening up all of the areas in Paphos."

Although most people are voicing support for the clean-up efforts, not everyone is enthusiastic.

Mayor Phedonas Phedonos 'a steamroller'

Paphos resident, George Demetriou, said: "The new mayor is like a steamroller through the town and dismantling things which were fine just as they were. Yes, there are some people taking advantage of situations, but others are just trying to make a living. He's doing this just to get votes and to impress people. It's not how things are usually done in Cyprus."

Phedonos and the municipality say that's exactly the point of the radical action, to create a new way of tackling issues full on and changing the lackadaisical attitude to how things have been 'accepted' before.

The mayor has the full backing of the local council, and is forging ahead with plans to bring Paphos up to scratch ahead of the European Capital of Culture of 2017.

The municipality spokesman said: "The tolerance that unfortunately for years has been demonstrated, neither legitimises nor permits the perpetuation of illegalities. Paphos is the European Capital of Culture for 2017, and must represent a picture fitting of the title."

The municipality has already turned its eye to the busy harbour area in Kato Paphos, which is buzzing with cafes, bars, restaurants, events and boat trips and said that as the area is a showcase for Paphos, they want to create a 'flawless' picture.

"The municipality has taken a series of measures for the aesthetic restoration of the area. This includes the placement of tables and chairs at venues at a specified point, the same goes for the placement of billboards of small cruise boats. We have also removed arbitrary and illegal construction at shops and restaurants and so on."

He said that some of the owners of the affected business have complied and some, as yet, have not.

The mayor said: "The municipality of Paphos and I are determined to bring this delicate area to the state that it deserves. And we will undertake whatever actions we have to at any political cost despite the reactions we get."

Phedonos noted that the development plan for Paphos focuses on the creation of a series of cultural and urban infrastructure projects, which will enhance the town, improve the quality of life and boost the local economy.

He said: "The following projects, with a total budget of more than e1/427.7 million, have been planned, or are already, in progress: the refinement of Paphos old town, the town tall square and municipal fruit market, the unification of the archaeological sites, the renovation of the municipal theatre and the old cinema "Attikon", upgrades to the Paphos district archaeological museum and actions towards beautification of the building environment, the expansion of the road network connecting Paphos airport and the Coral Bay area, the refinement of the coastal area from Geroskipou towards Paphos and Paphos towards Coral bay. There is also continuing of upgrading the facilities offered on the municipal beaches."

The local tourism board has also come out in support of the recent actions of the municipalities of the district, in particular Paphos, in a statement released this week saying that inthe last two months, interventions had managed to bring about radical changes and upgrading to the built environment in various areas.

"We expect that all efforts will continue and be further strengthened so we can all move a Paphos it deserves to be," it added.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Sep 27, 2015
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