The City of Athens launched a crackdown on heavily indebted cafes, bars and restaurants Thursday by confiscating the tables and chairs of one of the oldest establishments in central Kolonaki which had been placed in public areas.
The initiative is part of an effort by local authorities to put an end to the illegal use of public space by establishments in downtown Athens, and to clamp down on those who use these areas without paying their dues to city authorities.
According to Andreas Varelas, deputy mayor resonsible for the city center and the Municipal Police, the proprietor of the establishment in question owes the City of Athens 415,000 euros in unpaid rent. The establishment, he said, has not paid rent to have chairs and tables in public areas since 2012.
“In order to have tables and chairs he must pay his debts or come to some sort of installment arrangement before a new license is issued,” he said, adding that it is unfair that citizens have their properties confiscated for debts of as little as 1,000 euros, while businessmen making huge profits were getting away with paying nothing. He clarified, however, that the nonpayment of debts to the city was not the rule.
“There are many [proprietors] that do pay their dues,” he said, adding that most businesses in Omonia Square have a clean bill of health when it comes to paying their debts.
The City of Athens is currently owed 325 million euros.