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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-22

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, May 22, 2002


  • [01] New law would banish roadside billboards
  • [02] Half-a-million-a-day Green 'left no tip' after Anassa bash
  • [03] Government puts its weight behind green energy projects
  • [04] You will lose your money, Markides warns Britons buying in the north
  • [05] One man on the frontline
  • [06] New fuel hikes on the way
  • [07] Jewel shop thieves steal watches

  • [01] New law would banish roadside billboards

    By George Psyllides

    BILLBOARDS could be banished to 100 metres from motorways if a government bill on the issue is adopted.

    Parliament yesterday got the ball rolling on the legislation to regulate advertising hoardings, which have mushroomed in recent months to litter the island's roadsides and which police describe as a safety hazard.

    The government bill was yesterday discussed in a joint meeting of the House Communication and Interior Affairs Committees.

    The Publishers' Association yesterday joined the fray over the issue, accusing the giant billboards of sapping advertising revenue.

    The Chairman of the Association, Anthos Lycavgis, said the unregulated installation of billboards was tantamount to "looting the basic lifeblood of the press and the mass media in general".

    Lycavgis described the billboards as "press killers" because they operated arbitrarily and without limitats.

    "The press, if nothing else, offers a social service, in which they were supported by advertising, while billboards merely acted as a money-makers for those who owned them," Lycavgis said.

    He added: "We do not demand their abolition; that would be foolish; but they should be put on a rational basis and under strict conditions."

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou revealed that around 300 billboards had been planted in the past 10 months and cited a study carried out in Greece that found that 12 per cent of serious accidents happened because drivers were distracted by billboards.

    Neophytou wondered if drivers could keep their eyes on the road when they saw a billboard advertising women's underwear.

    Roads had become an advertising dumpsite, the minister said, adding that roads and pavements worth millions were completed on one day and dug up on the next without permission by advertisers who wanted to erect billboards, the minister said.

    The Chairman of the Committee, Nicos Pittokopitis, said there was no evidence linking accidents with billboards, a fact admitted by the Deputy Chief of Traffic Police Andreas Paphitis, who added, however, that some accidents were in fact connected.

    Strovolos Mayor Savvas Eliofotou agreed that the matter should be regulated but argued that the municipalities should be in charge and not the state.

    Municipalities currently rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds of profit by providing permission to advertising companies to plant their hoardings within their boundaries.

    Neophytou suggested that local authorities could be shutting their eyes to the problems, provoking an angry reaction from Eliofotou, who wondered if the government's eyes were open.

    Another group that has made a lot from billboards - the landowner's association - came out in support of the status quo, arguing that the proposed legislation would eradicate outdoor advertisers to the benefit of the mass media.

    The bill provides that billboards could not be erected closer that 100 metres from the boundaries of the motorway and 75 metres from a roundabout.

    In residential areas, billboards would have to be placed at a distance of at least 20 metres from the traffic lights or the roadside.

    The bill also includes strict penalties for violators, who would initially be given a 30-day warning to remove their billboard: if they refused to do so it would be torn down at the owner's expense.

    If any billboards are within the prohibited boundaries and obstruct visibility or are a safety hazard, they will be pulled down by the authorities after consultation with the chief of police or the director of the public works department.

    The Ministry of Communications would oversee the implementation of the law and have the power to refer to the Attorney-general any cases where local authorities fail to take the necessary actions.

    The penalties stipulated by the proposed legislation are a prison term of up to 24 months or a fine of up to 4,000 or both.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Half-a-million-a-day Green 'left no tip' after Anassa bash

    By Jean Christou

    BRITISH billionaire Philip Green, who held a 5 million 50th birthday bash at the luxurious Anassa Hotel in Paphos in March, allegedly left no tip for staff, it was revealed yesterday.

    According to a report in Politis, staff were outraged when management failed to pass on the tip they thought BHS tycoon Green had left behind after the three-day party for 200 specially flown-in guests.

    However, according to the report, management set the record straight with an internal memo pointing out that Green, who has just paid himself a yearly salary of 180 million or 500,000 a day, had left no tip.

    The Anassa yesterday refused to comment on the 'tip' scandal, saying it could never and would never reveal which guests left tips and which did not.

    The Thursday-to-Sunday party included a secret celebrity guest list, with entertainment by Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, George Benson, Demis Roussos, Earth Wind and Fire and a troupe of male strippers, a twenties-style black- tie dinner and a Roman toga party. Thousands of pounds were also spent on caviar, champagne and flowers for the 200 guests that Green and his wife Tina, 52, flew to Cyprus on a specially chartered plane from Luton.

    Leaving the island, Green appeared irritated by the reference in some section of the British media to an "orgy of excess".

    "It wasn't gaudy or horrible or ugly," Green said, speaking at Paphos airport. "The party was beautifully done and a fabulous success. It was a lot of fun. I am just feeling a little bit tired and my guests are recuperating."

    Green, said to have made the fastest billion in British corporate history, broke a new record last week with his gigantic pay cheque. The Observer said on Sunday that the 180 million salary was the biggest payday in British history.

    The son of Jewish parents, Green left school at 15 without qualifications and declined to enter the family business of property investment, opting instead to enter the clothing retail industry, working his ways up from London street markets until he bought out the ailing BHS chain two years ago. Last year, the company made a profit of 100 million.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Government puts its weight behind green energy projects

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT is to set aside 34 million in a subsidies over the next eight years, for anyone who invests in building plants producing energy from renewable sources, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.

    Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis explained, however, that the cost of the money - around 4 million a year - would be covered by consumers through a 1.5 to two per cent increase in billing.

    The committee heard that the Cabinet would in its next meeting discuss the findings of a study on the production of energy from alternative sources, in order to decide on how the programme would be promoted and subsidised. The study has been carried out by the ministry over the past three years.

    Apart from the solar panel programme, the government plans to promote electricity production through the use of wind turbines, as well as exploiting garbage and biomass, which is made up of plant materials and animal waste.

    The minister said those choosing to install solar energy production equipment in their homes would be subsidised by the state, and could then sell on their electricity to the electricity company at the same rate that it charged households.

    Rolandis said the project would be a huge undertaking costing $100,000,000. Tenders would be announced soon, and businesses had already expressed interest, the minister said.

    He added: "If the Cabinet approves this programme it would mean that we would encourage and subsidise forms of energy and electricity produced by the sun, wind, and biomass, as well as renew old solar panels currently installed in homes that are not efficient and are visual pollutants."

    Speaking about the use of rubbish for producing electricity, Rolandis said such a practice would put an end to landfills, since all the rubbish would be used in producing energy.

    Rolandis said that his ministry was preparing to start implementation of its plans this coming summer.

    Included in the plans is a programme of replacing old solar panels, which are currently found on 74 per cent of houses and over half of the island's hotels.

    The minister said that a private company had already set up a factory that would manufacture the equipment needed for the production of solar energy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] You will lose your money, Markides warns Britons buying in the north

    By Soteris Charalambous

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday stepped up government efforts to warn foreign investors about the risks of illegally buying property in the north of the island.

    Markides underlined Monday's statement made by Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou saying that foreign investors risked losing their money. He also called for intensification of the information campaign about the hazards of buying property in the Turkish occupied areas.

    Markides said: "Naturally, a wider information campaign is needed in the areas where this phenomenon takes place in order to make potential buyers realise that they risk losing their money."

    In his statement, Markides also addressed the possibility of using other methods to prevent the sale of properties belonging to Greek Cypriots lost during the 1974 invasion. He explained: "We have repeatedly tried to block advertising and to secure a court decision in a specific case but foreign courts say that they don't have the jurisdiction to deal with title ownership in a foreign countries or have the ability to determine legal ownership."

    However, Markides referred to the success of individual appeals to the European Court of Human Rights as the basis for arguments against the purchase of property in the north. In the case of refugee Titina Loizidou, the court found in favour of Greek Cypriot against Turkey for loss of use and access to property, ordering Ankara to pay compensation, which it never did.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] One man on the frontline

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    AS I entered the hotel where I was set to meet Peter Critsimilios, I unconsciously braced myself for the kind of rhetoric that emanates from the US concerning last year's attacks on the World Trade Centre.

    Instead, I met a man carrying the weight of a city's wreath on his shoulders, an unassuming mark of horror, hope and responsibility hidden behind resolute eyes.

    A fireman from the New York Fire Department, Critsimilios found himself at the epicentre of September 11's tragic events, a day whose memory hangs over his every word.

    Dressed in a tight 'Harlem Fire House' t-shirt and jeans, Critsimilios commanded an air of self-discipline and restraint in his effort to relay his experiences of the tragic disaster.

    Like many other firemen involved in the rescue and recovery operation on the WTC, Critsimilios was off-duty when he heard the orders on the radio for all firemen to go directly to their respective fire stations.

    Preparations were made with the utmost urgency as trucks were loaded with all manner of tools - including crow bars, shovels, torches, generators, lighting, water and medical equipment. In the morning light of the next day, he described scenes of complete devastation.

    The Greek-American described an eerie quiet hanging over the entire site. Burning fires, acrid smoke and the awful knowledge of people stuck under debris created a hostile environment for rescue crews. The men immediately set to work, resting wherever and whenever they could.

    "(We) were just going to sleep, waking up, getting some food and going back to the debris pile," said Critsimilios. They changed it to 24-hour shifts but even this proved exhausting.

    The schedule was again modified to get a rotation of people on a regular basis - giving the fire department a 24-hour presence, seven days a week from the initial attack until today. They are most likely to stay until June.

    The rescue team performed without panicking. In opening stages of the tragedy, they succeeded in evacuating over 20,000 people. Despite the dramatic nature of the event, Critsimilios said his associates stayed focused on the task at hand.

    "You would just stand there and look, but you couldn't look for too long because it was all-encompassing and very difficult to process."

    The logistics of the operation were daunting. The tallest skyscraper in the US, constructed using 30 tonne beams of steel had fallen to its feet burying a mass of people in the process. Heavy-duty equipment and manpower was needed to cut and remove the steel.

    Critsimilios revealed a fragment of his personal anguish when he added, "I think the fire department performed brilliantly. It's just a tragic thing for us losing so many of our best people. Many personal friends, people I admire, respect, have a wonderful working relationship with. it's been very difficult to say the least."

    The human tragedy surrounding the disaster enveloped the minds of many rescuers who witnessed heart-wrenching scenes and walls lined with photographs asking, "Have you seen my father?"

    The people of New York gathered on roads leading to the site offering encouragement and support to workers. People volunteered to serve food, give massages and treat the wounded.

    "The response from the general public, the country at large and the world was very supportive, caring and compassionate; it helped, it helped tremendously."

    The fire department dealt with the psychological impact by providing stress- debriefings and professional support for all its firemen and their families.

    When asked about his personal experience with the stress, Critsimilios replied, "I'm dealing with it, other people are dealing with it. My heart goes out to the wives of all those dead firemen, to their children, to their parents. They are the ones that now must carry on."

    The fireman waves a flag of admiration to his city as he points out that New Yorkers rallied around each other in the face of adversity He refutes claims of prejudice towards people of Arab-descent. "We are a picture of the human race, the human face of New York. We are a city of multi- nationals and many religions and that hasn't changed. America is still a place were anything is possible."

    Throughout the interview, Critsimilios' manner was composed and sombre. He spoke most passionately when he stressed the gratitude he felt for the support from the Cyprus Fire Brigade who will present him with a cheque from a collection made for the '9/11 Relief Fund' - a charity for the survivors of the 343 firemen killed.

    Invited by Laiki Insurance and the Cyprus Fire Service to participate in Fire Safety Week, Critsimilios will conduct a presentation of the rescue operation at the WTC using previously unreleased photographs today at 6.45pm at the Laiki Sporting Club.

    When asked whether he would continue his presentations in other countries, he replied, "I'm a good fireman, like a good soldier, I do what I'm told. But I'm most anxious to get back to NY and get back to what I do which is run into burning buildings."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] New fuel hikes on the way

    MOTORISTS should be bracing themselves after the government yesterday said fresh fuel hikes were in the pipeline.

    Trade, Tourism and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis said there should be some increase from current fuel prices.

    "There may be an increase; you remember, we had asked the House to add four cents but they approved 2.5, which only resulted in perpetuating the deficit," Rolandis said.

    The House in April decided to increase fuel prices by 2.75 cents (VAT included) per litre, despite a government proposal for 4.4 cents.

    "By the end of this month, the deficit would have reached 2.5 to three million and would continue to rise through to the next month," Rolandis said.

    The deficit is the result of a government agreement with petrol companies to subsidise them in return for keeping prices low.

    "We will table the issue before the House, after conferring with the parties, because we do not want the public coffers to foot the bill," Rolandis said.

    "There must be a further increase," he added.

    The House had rejected a government proposal for the prices to be effective until July 31 and decided that they would be valid until May 31, when the House Finance Committee would look into the issue anew.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Jewel shop thieves steal watches

    THIEVES launched a 50,000 raid on a Nicosia jewellery shop early yesterday, police said. They broke into the Athos Diamond Centre on Makarios Avenue at around 4.30am and made off with around 40 watches worth a total of 47,000.

    The culprits used a large piece of wood to shatter the entrance, as well as a metal pipe to break in through the side windows, causing damage estimated at 3,000.

    Group 4 security personnel and police responded to the call, but the burglars had already fled the scene. Police said none of the shop's expensive jewellery had been taken.

    The shop is owned by Paphos resident Athos Ioannou and is insured.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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