LCQ21: Fixed-pitch hawker licences
Regarding issues relating to fixed-pitch hawker licences (hawker licences), will the Government inform this Council of:
(1) the annual changes in the number of hawker licences in the past five years, with a breakdown by District Council district;
(2) the number of hawker licences surrendered in the past five years, with a breakdown by District Council district;
(3) the respective numbers of new licences issued, in the past five years by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) in relation to the fixed hawker pitches left vacant upon surrender of hawker licences by the licensees, to their assistants and other persons;
(4) the number of appeals lodged against the rejection of applications for succession or transfer of hawker licences, which were handled by the Licensing Appeals Board in the past five years; the number of successful cases among those appeals; and
(5) the criteria adopted by FEHD for considering the issuance of new hawker licences?
It has been the Government's policy since the early 1970s that normally no new hawker licences should be issued and that on-street licensed hawkers should be put into public market buildings or off-street hawker bazaars as far as practicable so as to reduce street obstruction, environmental nuisance to the residents living nearby or even hazards relating to hygiene and fire risks. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has continued to pursue the above policies on hawker control and licensing since its establishment in 2000.
The Government reviewed the hawker licensing policy in 2008-2009. The scope of the review covered examination of the feasibility of re-issuing new hawker licences, relaxation of the requirements for succession and transfer of hawker licences, and ways to strengthen the role of District Councils (DCs) in hawker licensing and management. Subsequent to the review, the Government implemented various measures, including re-issuing more than 200 fixed-pitch hawker licences in the light of the vacancy situation in individual fixed pitches. These licensees included the then-employed registered assistants who had experience in running hawker business and other eligible members of the public. No succession and transfer will be allowed under the licencing conditions for these newly issued hawker licenses.
In addition, to improve the fire resistance capability and design of hawker stalls, the Government rolled out in June 2013 a five-year assistance scheme for licensed hawkers operating in the 43 fixed-pitch hawker areas (the Hawker Assistance Scheme (HAS)), involving a funding allocation of $230 million. Financial assistance would be given to the relevant licensed hawkers for stall reconstruction and relocation, and a one-off ex gratia payment would be offered for surrendering their licences.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(1) The numbers of fixed-pitch hawker licences in each of the past five years (i.e. from 2012 to 2016) with breakdown by districts are listed in Annex 1.
(2) The numbers of voluntary surrender of fixed-pitch hawker licences in each of the past five years (i.e. from 2012 to 2016) with breakdown by districts are listed in Annex 2.
(3) In the past five years, there was no succession by registered assistants nor issue of new hawker licences to members of the public after the voluntary surrender of hawker licences.
(4) From 2012 to 2016, the Licensing Appeals Board handled a total of 14 cases concerning succession and transfer of hawker licenses. Among those appeals, four were allowed and five were allowed subject to conditions.
(5) The HAS will end in June 2018. Before and after the end of the HAS, FEHD will take into account the circumstances of individual hawker areas, including their fire safety and environmental hygiene situations, the business environment, comments of relevant Government departments, as well as the views of the relevant District Council and local residents to carefully decide whether or not to issue new hawker licences so as to fill up the hawker areas where there are vacant pitches that may be re-used.
Ends/Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:25
Issued at HKT 19:25