Environmental officials confirmed yesterday that prosecutions against four shoeshiners in Central have been dropped.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department 'has decided to withdraw the prosecutions against the four shoeshiners' in Theatre Lane, a spokesman said. 'The issue of licensing of bootblack hawkers will be discussed at the Legislative Council's panel on food safety and environmental hygiene on July 14.'
The four were originally due to appear in court next Wednesday to face charges for obstructing the road with tools they used for shoe polishing.
Civic Party legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the four were very happy to learn they could continue working there. Ms Eu said she would pursue the matter of issuing hawking licences to the shoeshiners.
'The District Council will discuss the issue this month and I think councillors will probably support issuing licences to them,' she said.
A fifth shoeshiner, known as Uncle Lee, was fined HK$400 in April for obstruction and operating without a licence in Murray Road. All his shoeshining tools were confiscated.
Ms Eu said she was trying to raise money as Uncle Lee had told her he could not afford the HK$2,500 annual licence fee if the government decided to issue licences for them.
'I have asked whether [the department] can let Uncle Lee pay the fees in instalments or give him a discounted rate. He and his wife live only on the old-age allowance and money earned by polishing shoes.'