Cafe owner faces €5k fine for tables outside in heatwave
A CAFE owner who placed chairs outside her business to cash in on the summer heatwave is facing a court appearance and large fine after the council took action against her.
Sarah Harty, who owns the Gallery Cafe in Gort, Co Galway, said she was left stunned by the summons after trying to keep her business afloat.
She now faces a fine of up to €5,000 when the case comes before the courts next month.
Ms Harty (33) has run the cafe for the past eight years. Last year, she erected some decking outside the premises, but was ordered to remove it by Galway County Council.
"The footpath outside is in a terrible state, filled with potholes. The council say they don't have funds to fix the path and, because I'm on a side street, it's not a priority, so I put down some decking.
"They made me take away the decking so, when the weather got good, I put some tables and chairs outside, but a couple of weeks ago I got a letter ordering me to court and warning I faced a €5,000 fine.
"I've paid €6,500 a year in rates for the past eight years. They told me it wasn't a priority to fix the path, but I was willing to do something about it myself and they still stopped me.
"Business in Gort is closing down. Am I just supposed to die with them because they (the council) don't have the funds to fix the road?" Ms Harty asked.
Ms Harty has been in contact with the council and was told that she may be given an opportunity to settle out of court.
However, even a reduced fine will have a serious impact on her business, Ms Harty said.
A council spokesperson said: "As this matter is currently the subject of legal proceedings, the council is not in a position to comment."