Police will not open an extra eastbound lane for protesters on Hennessy Road during this year's July 1 march, despite an appeal committee pressing for the decision to be left open.
Senior superintendent Tan Wing-yuen said yesterday there would be no additional lane for marchers, a day after the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions rejected an application by protest organisers to open the lane, but told police to make the call on the day.
"Opening another lane will affect police and fire department plans," Tan said. "I can tell everyone here that police will not open an extra eastbound lane."
He said sealing off the eastbound side of Causeway Road and Hennessy Road - which alternate between two and three lanes - would inconvenience commuters travelling between Admiralty and Causeway Bay.
But Icarus Wong Ho-yin, vice-convenor of march organiser the Civil Human Rights Front, said the force was totally disregarding the appeal board's guidance. "They were urged to act according to the situation on the day. But now, even before the rally, they are already saying that they won't," Wong said.
He added that it would not make sense for police to allow vehicles to use part of the road as normal because it would be unsafe for protesters. Allowing traffic to flow along the route would also mean there would be no route set aside for emergency vehicles to pass, Wong said.
The organiser had applied for all six lanes along the route to be closed off for marchers, including a lane for emergency vehicles. But police indicated in a "letter of no objection" to the march they would seal off only three westbound lanes and give marchers partial use of the tram line.
Wong said organisers expected an increase in the number of marchers this year because of the groundswell of concern about issues such as plans for new in the northeastern New Territories, electoral reform and Beijing's controversial white paper on the city's affairs.
Asked if plain-clothes officers would be circulating among marchers on Tuesday, Tan said: "I cannot give further details."
He added that Independent Police Complaints Council representatives would attend the march, which will start at either 3pm or when marchers fill 85 per cent of the six football pitches at Victoria Park - the starting point.