Some operators of beach kiosks have abused department's flexible approach
I refer to the letter from Kenneth Howe ('Officials unwilling to compromise over seats and eateries at city's beaches', December 4) and would like to explain the rationale behind the operating conditions of the food kiosks at the gazetted beaches in Southern district.
In the past, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has exercised flexibility by allowing kiosk operators at the beaches to place their furniture outside the kiosks on the clear understanding that both the open space and the furniture can be freely used by all beach goers. However, some operators have abused this flexibility by discouraging non-patrons from using the space and furniture.
This not only deprives beach goers of their rights but also breaches the contract terms.
Under the contracts, the business hours of the food kiosks tie in with the daily operation hours of the beaches (ending at 6pm or 7pm depending on the season). Nonetheless, operators are free to apply to the department for approval to extend their business hours and each application will be considered on its merits.
We have not received any such application from the kiosk operator at South Bay beach and Middle Bay beach. The operator has, without our prior approval, organised parties at these two beaches from the afternoon till midnight, causing noise nuisance to and complaints from the neighbourhood. Recently, we even found unauthorised structures and cooking stoves set up at South Bay beach for partying purposes, giving rise to nuisance and safety concerns.
While we will provide furniture in the open spaces near the food kiosks under the new contracts, for enjoyment by all beach goers, we have never said the same type of furniture now being used at some southern beaches will be used at all other beaches. Indeed, starting from next year, we plan to replace them with stylish and comfortable furniture that is commensurate with the outdoor and relaxing environment of the beaches. We will discuss with kiosk operators the provision of furniture that best suits the environment and ambience of individual beaches.
Our bottom line is that the open space and furniture must be fully accessible to non-patrons of the kiosks, and that the kiosks should be operated according to the conditions of the contracts.
Susana Tai, district leisure manager (Southern), Leisure and Cultural Services Department