Plea to produce new arrangements for buskers

Local | Stella Wong 12 Apr 2018

A think tank is urging government officials to work on a licensing scheme for buskers because legislation is not able to manage the noise and prevent obstructions.

Civic Exchange laid out the issues yesterday in proposing a licensing scheme to restrict noise and keep ways open.

Such a scheme "can legitimize street performers so they are not considered beggars," said Lai Man-yin, a co-author of the report. "It would control the noise level and where and when performers can perform."

Under the Summary Offences Ordinance, a busker needs police permission to play a instrument, though that is not enforced.

Civic Exchange tuned to Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok as an example of what can happen when performers, commercial promoters, hawkers, protesters and other groups compete for space with residents, shoppers and tourists.

"The sheer intensity of activity resulted in severe noise, nuisance and obstruction," the study says.

Lai suggested looking to New York's Times Square for some answers. There, costumed characters and hawkers must stay within "designated activity" and "pedestrian flow" zones.

And she urged an updating of the current law on using amplifiers. "The law is from 1964," Lai noted.

She also proposed establishing a "city betterment commissioner" as a special post under the chief executive.

There are presently at least nine government departments responsible for aspects of street management, she said, and "due to them overlapping it can be very complicated."

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