Noise threat to pedestrian area

Local | Cindy Wan 18 May 2018

Two district councilors have proposed suspending the Mong Kok pedestrian area until the government finds a way to regulate performers.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Council is due to vote on a motion next Thursday to suspend Sai Yeung Choi Street South temporarily over complaints from nearby residents, who accused the street performers of blocking the road and being noisy.

Some of the councilors called for a licensing system for street performers in a bid to retain the pedestrian zone while keeping it tidy and well-regulated.

Civic Party councilor Andy Yu Tak-po said the pedestrian zone should just be suspended until the government comes up with a proper permit system, noting that shutting the Mong Kok zone will only drive the street entertainers away to another district.

Yu suggested the government take reference from West Kowloon cultural district to establish a licensing system which regulates the maximum volume, equipment used, the quality and the number of street performers.

As there are no clear instructions and regulations to restrict the activities in these pedestrian zones, law enforcers often find it difficult to charge street performers, Yu said, adding that such a licensing system would give police an appropriate and lawful reason to regulate the streets.

Another councilor, Chan Siu-tong from the Business and Professionals Alliance, regretted voting for the pedestrian zone in 2000, saying he was deceived by the Transport Department.

He said the department presented the pedestrian zone as a relaxing, leisurely area in the council in 2000 but it now refuses to take responsibility as the street becomes unmanageable.

The two parties have submitted a discussion paper to the council, with the Civic Party urging the government to take better approaches to oversee the pedestrian zone and the Business and Professionals Alliance urging suspension of the trial scheme in Mong Kok.

If the council agreed to suspend the pedestrian zone, the council should have the power to ban entertainers from performing and resume the road for vehicles to pass, said Chan.

Chan said that since street performers failed to challenge the district council's decision to shorten the opening time of the pedestrian zone in a judicial review in 2013, the court had approved the council's right to open and shut down the pedestrian zone.

cindymt.wan@singtaonewscorp.com

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