Central and Western District Councillor Siu Ka-yi slammed the Home Affairs Department for allegedly bypassing district councils in processing applications for a liquor license.
Siu said the department had not informed her that a restaurant on Square Street in Sheung Wan had been applying for a license to serve alcoholic drinks since October last year, Metro Daily reported on Friday.
She stressed that liquor license applications are a sensitive issue for residents who fear that the operation of bars and similar establishments could threaten the peace and quiet in their neighborhood.
It is known to be a common practice for the Liquor Licensing Board to inform the district council of any new license or license renewal applications.
Siu, who is a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she was not informed of any of such applications in the last quarter of 2015.
Siu said she was told by the Home Affairs Department that it was just following the guidelines from the Registration and Electoral Office, which said relevant information should not be disclosed to district councillors during the election period from October to December last year.
The department also noted that during the suspension of the district council’s operation from Oct. 2 to Dec. 31, 2015, any district councillor who wish to publish their opinions must do so in their personal capacity.
But Siu said the arrangement is unreasonable.
“District councillors have to perform their duties in serving residents’ needs even during the election period,” she explained, adding that since the election ended in late November, the suspension of the district council’s operation until the end of December was unnecessary.
The authorities should review the arrangements, Siu said.
Meanwhile, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said it has regularly provided information regarding liquor license applications to the Central and Western District branch of Home Affairs Department.
The FEHD and the Liquor Licensing Board have not received any instructions from the Registration and Electoral Office not to supply licensing information to suspend such communications during the district council elections last year.
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