New body needed to raze illegal buildings

Local officials, including prefectural authorities, seemed to be in agreement yesterday that the best way for Greece to tackle its massive illegal construction problem is to set up an independent body that will have the power to knock buildings down. The Technical Chamber of Greece held a conference yesterday, during which experts and civil servants discussed the reasons for the continuous construction of illegal homes around the country. Prefectural officials, who are responsible for overseeing this process, admitted that they are powerless to stop people breaking the rules. «Prefects do all they can but we come under pressure that prevents us from doing our jobs properly,» said Athens-Piraeus Prefect Constantina Bei. «People go to MPs and ministers to get them to put pressure on us,» said Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros. «At the same time, the public works and environment minister refuses to see us.» «We plan to carry out about 100 demolitions every year but few actually take place,» said the deputy prefect of eastern Attica, Haris Damaskos. «There is one villa that we have tried to knock down 12 times over the last five years but something always happens, either the court official or the police fail to turn up.» The officials agreed that a separate body that would be responsible for checking the legality of buildings while also having the power to knock them down needs to be created. The Technical Chamber said that after the summer it plans to submit to the government a full set of recommendations on how to tackle the problem.