Fight for Pissouri village in Cyprus

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BRITISH residents of Pissouri village whose homes have been destroyed by disastrous land slippage featured on the BBC’s ‘Inside Out South’ programme on Monday 24 September.

Retirees Kayt and her husband Peter Field, a former army colonel, contacted the BBC in desperation after six years of toing and froing, bounced between the government and local officials, with no action being taken to counter the land slippage that has caused destruction of homes and roads since 2012, and no compensation offered.

The pair are one of several couples appearing on the BBC programme.

They told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that the affected home owners felt abandoned by the Cyprus government and that lives had been ruined.

“We were evicted in March 2015, with no interaction with the officials at all. They just slapped a notice on our door that our home was not fit to live in. No help was offered and no care for people was shown,” she said.

A BBC team were recently in Pissouri for a few days covering the homeowners’ plight.

The Fields and others are hoping that highlighting the predicament might prompt the government to show a humanitarian approach, and some sort of care and concern towards stricken residents, she said.

Cracks appeared in their dream home a few years ago, and like other houses there, the Fields home has now split apart. Walls are bowed, roofs collapsed and gardens and pools destroyed.

The Fields purchased their four-bedroom villa with a substantial garden and pool in 1993, and decided to retire to Cyprus, a country they fell in love with when Peter was stationed on the island.

“We have always loved Cyprus and the people, but the government have let us down badly,” she said.

The pair are now having to rent a property nearby and watch their much-loved home disintegrate before their eyes.

“No-one has the price of another house do they, what are we supposed to do? We are living on a pension and paying rent. This is not what we planned at all.”

Various experts have found that the homes that were sold to unsuspecting buyers, were built on a ‘slow moving landslide’, something that the Cyprus government has yet to formally accept, she said.

Sixty properties with cracks in the walls as well as fourteen houses and a complex of 28 apartments have all been seriously affected. In 2015, several property owners came together to form the Pissouri Housing Initiative Group (PHIG)

Home owners, Antony and Penelope Walker, are members and said that PHIG has paid out thousands of euros to obtain studies and papers from various renowned international experts and also satellite imaging, at a cost of 25,000 euros, which measures the movement.

“According to the imaging of our area, it is moving up to 40 cm per year, this is a lot when it’s pressing against your house,” he said.

Despite assurances from ministers that the state would help and solutions would be found nothing has happened.

In 2015, the former interior minister, Socrates Hasikos, announced plans to put measures in place that could resolve the problem at a cost of €20m, to be paid for by the government,

The Limassol District Office has since said that this offer was made ‘without the district offices’ go ahead, said Walker.

“It’s like being in a revolving door and we are being given the run around. I’m not entirely sure why the local authority won’t accept the findings. It seems the district office is trying to quash everything we are trying to do,” he said.

The Cyprus Mail was unable to contact the district officer Marios Alexandrou for comment on Monday, and was informed that he was on leave for the day and not contactable.

“The situation for those of us who are residents in the immediate area is now extremely serious and solutions need to be found,” Field said.

By: Bejay Browne
Cyprus Mail – 30th September 2018