WP town council to review Hougang trade fair plans

WP town council to review Hougang trade fair plans
The Christmas and Chinese New Year fair at Hougang Hub, which is next to Hougang Mall. Shopkeepers have said that such fairs have hurt their business.

SINGAPORE - The town council run by the Workers' Party said yesterday it is "prepared to review" the schedule of next year's trade fairs in Hougang after shopkeepers complained their business had been hurt by the frequency of these events.

But events for the rest of this year will remain unchanged, said Ms Sylvia Lim, chairman of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council.

The town council is already committed to the year-end festive activities, she told The Straits Times. But it is "prepared to review the schedule and events for next year" after assessing the shopkeepers' concerns.

Ms Lim, who is also the WP chairman, confirmed she had received a petition submitted on Tuesday to the town council by 31 shopkeepers at Hougang Central Hub.

The petition said the trade fairs are "badly affecting" business as the trade fair stalls sell similar products, such as clothing and cellphone covers, at lower prices.

They asked the town council, which leases the space in front of Hougang Mall to trade fair organisers, to reconsider the frequency and duration of the fairs as well as the mix of stalls.

Some shopkeepers estimated business has fallen by up to 80 per cent since the fairs began in April.

On Thursday, Ms Lim said the town council has been looking into the shopkeepers' concerns and requests. "We have spoken to some of them directly, and this is still ongoing."

She added that the town council "will need to balance the interests of all businesses".

The shops are in the Bedok Reservoir-Punggol ward, part of Aljunied GRC, and its MP is WP chief Low Thia Khiang.

He had made the same point in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao newspaper, published on Thursday.

He said that from the perspective of residents and consumers, introducing more diverse and cheaper products helps to meet their needs.

But he could understand that if the goods sold at the fairs directly replicate those sold in the shops, "this should be carefully reviewed".

The town council also has to balance this with the concerns of shopkeepers who did not sign the petition, and those who wish for more trade fairs to bring in the crowds and boost business, he added.

"In general, the town council must balance the interests of all the businesses. This is the town council's responsibility. We also hope that businesses there will do well and make money," he said.

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