Serious action call on playgrounds

Local | Michael Shum 13 Dec 2019

Michael Shum

The Ombudsman has urged the department responsible for public playgrounds to amend its improper working procedure which has interrupted prosecution of law breakers committing minor offenses in those venues.

A report by the Office of the Ombudsman revealed yesterday that the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had neither drawn up clear guidelines on depositing layout plans of public playgrounds nor actively monitored the progress and kept records of such work before the omissions were discovered.

The report also suggested a lack of effective communication and collaboration between the LCSD and the Lands Department, where the layout plans were supposed to be deposited.

Consequently, when some public playgrounds were opened to the public, their layout plans had yet to be filed.

Earlier, local media reported that the LCSD's failure to deposit the layout plans of 583 public playgrounds had led to the legal basis for enforcement action, like smoking bans, being questioned.

Ombudsman Winnie Chiu Wai-yin urged the LCSD to take the lead and further review the procedures for depositing layout plans proactively with the Lands Department.

Meanwhile, the government watchdog brushed off claims that the Housing Department's allocation mechanism of ward offices for Legislative Council and District Council members was unfair.

Chiu revealed figures provided by the Housing Department, showing that the successful allocation rates of councilors applying for leasing a ward office were as high as 80 percent or above.

Even lawmakers returned by functional constituencies, who were given the lowest priority under the allocation mechanism, had a successful allocation rate of over 90 percent.

This came after district council members lashed out on the department's allocation mechanism of ward offices.

Those councilors alleged that while some had not been allocated any ward office, some councilors who are already sitting tenants can still lease an additional ward office due to their higher priority status.

They further suggested that the department should consider allocating vacant ward offices first to councilors who have not been allocated any ward office, but members objected.

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