Illegal nightspots targeted

The Municipality of Hellinikon in southern Athens said yesterday that it was cracking down on illegal nightspots that have taken over parts of its beachfront. Hellenikon Mayor Christos Kortzidis told Kathimerini that local officials were determined to enforce the law and protect the right of residents to visit local beaches. «There are two businesses operating on the Aghios Cosmas stretch. One of them makes use of the beach by operating a nightspot and the other operates a go-cart track along with an adjoining club,» he said. According to municipal officials, the two businesses have been granted permits for snack bars but have been operating as nightspots for the last few years. The snack bar licenses have been issued unlawfully by the Aghios Cosmas National Athletics Center, which does not have the authority to approve such businesses, according to the Hellenikon Municipality. Businesses operating without licenses and with illegally built structures are a common sight on beachfronts across the country, as advantage is taken of legal loopholes, corrupt state officials and poor monitoring by authorities. Municipal officials along with police and prosecutors this week shut down the go-cart track that had been operating since 2003. After the police left, municipal officials allaged they were attacked by the owners of the track. The two officials have filed complaints against the men. Other illegal business will also be targeted during the crackdown in an ambitious plan that many municipalities promise but few seem able to deliver. «We are working toward giving residents free access to the beach. We believe that the municipality should be responsible for the exemplary organization of its operation,» said Kortzidis. «At the next meeting, we will examine the possibility of revoking the permits of other nightspots,» he added.