PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 June, 2009, 12:00am

Should the rules on outdoor space be more flexible?

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department should not allow discretion without controls, and I do not believe officials have any wish to stop alfresco dining, provided it is done properly.

These open spaces belong in the public domain. The only people who profit from them being commandeered by restaurateurs are the restaurateurs themselves and the owners of the premises from which they operate.

Value per square foot to buy the restaurant, and rents, are magnified and the prices charged to customers therefore have to be higher.

The licences given by the government are given on the basis of inspections made only of the enclosed spaces; that is, kitchens, grease traps, hygiene and first-aid facilities, staffing and fire appliances. The open spaces have not been considered in the granting of these licences, but the consequent loopholes are being exploited.

The public does not benefit in any way.

The profit from the vastly expanded spaces used by the outside tables is huge and is to the detriment of other nearby caterers who lose clients. This leads to a reduction in diversity and choice for the public.

Once there is lack of control and inequality, triads step in to fill the voids.

I hope that government is not steamrollered into giving way on this issue, by big business interests and their johnny-come-lately supporters.

While on this issue, could somebody please tell us why the sharp-suited young gentlemen selling contracts for television and computer services are allowed to set up mobile stands with impunity, wherever and whenever they want, under the very eyes of hawker-control officers? Hawkers trying to make a hand-to-mouth living selling good honest wares are hounded.

Jack Haworth, Cheung Chau

Should developers get extra floor space for adding green features?

Some architectural experts have urged the government to provide incentives for developing sustainable architecture.

For example, it has been suggested exempted floor area could be provided if the developer provided certain green features to the required standard.

Is this the right approach? Should we reward the developers for doing something that they should be doing anyway?

In fact the ultimate cost for providing the green features will be paid by the tenants or the purchasers.

Incentives for green or sustainable features will pave the way for the developers to gain more area for sale.

The correct approach would be to encourage developers to provide sustainable features through corporate social responsibility.

Developers who fail to do so will be driven out of the market.

In public buildings, the government can set a good example by maximising its effort in pursuing sustainable architecture.

H. C. Bee, Kowloon Tong

Should more ice-cream hawker licences be issued?

It is great when you are out walking during the searing heat of summer to come across an ice-cream hawker. Hawkers are the sort of characters who add a bit of local colour.

It is very convenient to buy their products. Therefore, I think more licences for ice-cream hawkers should be issued.

However, it is important to ensure the hawkers maintain proper levels of hygiene when it comes to their products.

Suki So, Sha Tin

On other matters ...

The red rainstorm warning went up at 1.10am on June 4.

From midnight to 1am, more than 50mm of rain had fallen over the western part of the New Territories, and in fact the rain bands had finished with this area and were moving into Kowloon. Only an amber rainstorm warning was issued.

When the urban areas started to receive the heavy rain, the red rainstorm warning was issued, even though the amount of rainfall was the same. The rain had actually already stopped over Lantau and Tuen Mun, so the red rainstorm warning was meaningless in these areas.

Ideally, the red rainstorm warning should have been raised an hour earlier, when the western part of the New Territories was suffering from the deluge.

Yet again, high attention is given to the urban areas, while those living elsewhere get second-class treatment.

G. Marques, Lai Chi Kok