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LCQ3: Improving existing public markets and hawker control
     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Cheng Chung-tai and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 25):


     Some public rental housing (PRH) residents have complained that as Link Asset Management Limited (the Link) has incessantly raised substantially the rents charged to the shop operators of the shopping centres and markets in public housing estates under its management in recent years, small businesses have been replaced one after another by shops run by chain groups, resulting in higher commodity prices and fewer shopping choices for them.  On the other hand, in a radio programme during her election campaign in February this year, the incumbent Chief Executive indicated that as the Link was an organisation operated on fully commercial terms, the Government had no intervention point and could only propose to redevelop public markets, with a view to providing more shopping choices for PRH residents.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the list of the public markets the redevelopment of which are being studied and those which have been confirmed; and

(2) whether it will consider relaxing the hawker management policy to enable hawkers trading in districts near the shopping centres managed by the Link to have more room for survival so as to provide more shopping choices for PRH residents; if not, of the reasons for that?



     On the 11th of this month, the Chief Executive (CE) delivered The Chief Executive's 2017 Policy Address.  In her speech to the Legislative Council (LegCo) that day, the CE clearly stated that the Government would resume the construction of new public markets to offer wider choices of fresh provisions to the public, and improve the facilities and management of existing public markets, including expediting the installation of air conditioners.  My reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Dr Hon Cheng Chung-tai is as follows:

(1) Based on the new thinking on governance focused on bringing convenience and benefits to the public, the Government will make available resources for building new public markets in Tung Chung, Tin Shui Wai and Hung Shui Kiu.  The Government will also study the need and feasibility of providing new public markets in districts where relevant facilities are alleged to be insufficient.

     In planning for new development areas in the future, the Government will consider the need to include public markets as part of the infrastructure.  The factors to be taken into account include the planning standards for public markets in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, such as the population and demographic mix of the area; community needs; the availability of market facilities and the number of fresh provision retail outlets in the vicinity; the geographical location, existing and planned uses, and usable area of potential sites; and ancillary transport facilities nearby, in order to ensure that, upon completion, the markets will be of a substantial scale and viability and that public finances and land resources can be optimised.

     Regarding existing public markets, the Government will conduct a comprehensive review and formulate specific improvement measures for both the facilities and their management in a systematic manner.  As far as the hardware is concerned, the Government will allocate resources to improve the environment of existing public markets.  One of the measures is to expedite the installation of air-conditioners, including the retrofitting of air-conditioning facilities for the 11 public markets which have obtained sufficient tenants' consent (a list of the 11 public markets is at Appendix).

     To take forward the above work, the Government will form a dedicated team, to be led by a directorate officer at the rank of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C, to conduct a comprehensive review of public markets and formulate concrete measures in a systematic manner to improve the facilities and management of public markets, and to consider adopting new approaches to their construction, design and modus operandi when resuming the construction of new public markets.  The review will cover the positioning of public markets, distribution of existing and new markets, management mode and structure, rental adjustment mechanism, hardware improvement and ways to handle markets with relatively low patronage, etc. 

(2) If the hawking locations near the shopping centres of the Link are within public housing estates or the property management boundaries of the Link, the authority and responsibility for hawker control will rest with either the Housing Department (HD) or the property management company concerned.  As far as HD is concerned, in general, if hawkers are hawking in public housing estates under the Housing Authority (HA), HD or the relevant property management companies are responsible for hawker control therein.  Hawkers hawking within public housing estate areas give rise to environmental hygiene, noise nuisance and pedestrian safety problems, and will cause inconvenience to nearby residents and other persons, as well as generate complaints.  Therefore, HD has to discharge the duties of property management and exercise the authority delegated to HD officers by the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene according to the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation, in order to take control measures over hawking activities carried out within the public housing estate areas of HA. 

     The hawker control in public areas outside housing estates is undertaken by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).  FEHD has been managing on-street hawking using a pragmatic approach with a view to maintaining environmental hygiene and food safety while safeguarding public safety and preventing nuisances arising from hawking activities.  Generally speaking, except for the sale of prohibited/restricted or cooked food, and hawking in major thoroughfares, areas of high pedestrian flow (such as pedestrian precincts, Mass Transit Railway entrances/exits, bus terminals and ferry concourses, heavily used footbridges, overseas workers rendezvous and tourist spots) and places under substantiated and repeated complaints of hawking activities, FEHD will adopt the "disperse or else we would arrest" tactic to achieve the objective of hawker management operations.
Ends/Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:25
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