Following is a question by the Hon Alice Mak and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui, in the Legislative Council today (June 5):
The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Tin Sau Bazaar (Tin Sau Bazaar) in Tin Shui Wai, which is set up with the facilitation of the Government and under the operation and management of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs), has commenced operation for nearly four months. It has been reported that the business of the stalls in the Bazaar is dull owing to the unsatisfactory conditions of its infrastructure and ancillary facilities (e.g. problems of serious accumulation of water at the site after heavy rain, insufficient power supply and inadequate publicity, etc.). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it knows (i) the respective numbers of stalls which have been rented out and left vacant, (ii) the total patronage and average weekly patronage, (iii) the average weekly turnover of each stall, (iv) the respective numbers of stall operators who have surrendered their tenancy and those who will do so soon, and (v) the number of stalls which have been surrendered and rented out again, since Tin Sau Bazaar has commenced operation;
(b) as the Architectural Services Department started to install additional surface channels in Tin Sau Bazaar in April this year, whether the authorities have assessed the impact of such works on the stall operators; of the number of stall operators who needed to suspend business while the works were in progress; whether the authorities have arranged any temporary venues for them to display and sell their goods, as well as granted them rental waiver/reduction or compensation; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(c) whether the Home Affairs Department has discussed with TWGHs and the Yuen Long District Council since April this year the further enhancement of the ancillary facilities in Tin Sau Bazaar (e.g. laying floor tiles, beautifying the stalls, etc.); if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(d) of the details of the publicity efforts made by the Government for Tin Sau Bazaar in the past half year (including the expenditure and manpower involved); the details of the publicity efforts to be made by the Government in the coming 12 months (including whether it will step up publicity efforts and organize more activities to attract patronage to the Bazaar, as well as the projected expenditure and manpower involved)?
Tin Sau Bazaar (the Bazaar) is operated by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) on a non-profit-making basis. The objective of the Bazaar is to provide more shopping choices for local residents, develop the local economy and create local employment.
There are 152 stalls in the Bazaar for renting to individuals on a monthly basis, as well as 30 stalls for renting to organisations and four stalls operated by TWGHs. The stalls for individuals cover 27 specialty trades that meet the needs of the community, as well as those selling clothing and footwear, foodstuffs and grocery items, etc.
Regarding the four parts of the question, the reply is as follows:
(a) All 182 stalls in the Bazaar have been rented out successfully. According to the statistics of TWGHs, as at May 23, the total patronage was about 252 800 and the average weekly patronage was about 15 800 during a period of 109 business days (around 16 weeks) since the Bazaar commenced operation on February 1 this year. There are generally more visitors to the Bazaar during the weekends than on weekdays. As the stall operators have not submitted any data on their turnover to TWGHs, we do not have any information in this regard. As at May 23, a total of three stall operators, who rented the stall on individual basis, had surrendered their tenancy. TWGHs is making arrangement for the applicants on the waiting list to rent the three stalls.
(b) To improve the capacity of rainwater disposal in the Bazaar, the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) had installed about 30 additional drainage points on site in early April 2013. ArchSD has also started to install an additional surface channel at each major aisle and carry out corresponding local floor leveling since late April. The installation works for additional surface channels are carried out by three phases, with the first phase completed in early May. The second and third phases are expected to complete before July. When the black rainstorm signal was in force on May 22, no flooding occurred in the Bazaar and the situation of excessive accumulation of water had significantly improved, showing that the works have achieved the purpose of rainwater disposal.
ArchSD and TWGHs have carefully assessed the effect of the drainage improvement works on the stall operators before implementation. For safety reasons, TWGHs has arranged the stall operators in the affected areas to suspend business during the works. It has also granted rental waiver for the period of suspension plus two additional days to all affected stall operators.
(c) TWGHs and the Government have been closely monitoring the operation of the Bazaar, and have been listening to the requests and views of stall operators, District Council members and other stakeholders. For instance, views were collected through regular liaison meetings with the stall operators of the Bazaar, while TWGHs' staff, including social worker stationed at the Bazaar, listen to opinions and provide the stall operators with assistance. At present the patronage of the Bazaar and its attractiveness to consumers in both Tin Shui Wai (TSW) and other districts have room for improvement. Details of the enhancement measures and the assistance provided by Government departments are set out below:
(i) As mentioned above, ArchSD has been carrying out installation works for additional surface channels to improve the capacity of rainwater disposal in the Bazaar.
(ii) To improve the shading in the Bazaar, TWGHs has installed 13 large sun umbrellas on site since early April this year. It is now exploring the installation of curtains at the stalls.
(iii) TWGHs is considering the purchase of large outdoor fans for improving the comfort of shoppers during the summer.
(iv) TWGHs has worked with the power company to enhance power supply for about 60 stalls by reallocating electricity and planned to enhance the power supply of remaining stalls. TWGHs will closely monitor the change in power consumption on site and apply to the power company for additional cables if necessary.
(v) In response to requests for selling chilled/ frozen meat in the Bazaar, TWGHs has applied to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for a Fresh Provision Shop Licence with a view to introducing chilled/frozen meat stalls. The application is now being processed.
(vi) TWGHs has secured the consent of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) to display directional signs for the Bazaar in the nearby railway stations. The location of the Bazaar has been shown on the maps in Tin Shui Wai Station of the West Rail (WR), as well as in Tin Sau and Tin Yat Stations of the Light Rail (LR). MTRC has also displayed directional signs for the Bazaar at the entrances and exits of Tin Sau LR stations and will display directional signs at the entrances and exits of Tin Yat Station in due course.
TWGHs will continue to gather proposals on the enhancement of the ancillary facilities in the Bazaar through various channels and consider them. The Government departments will also continue to provide appropriate assistance in this regard.
(d) As regards publicity, TWGHs has put up publicity banners near the Bazaar and on various streets in TSW. It has also applied to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for putting up such banners in Tin Sau Road Park. Besides, TWGHs distributes promotional leaflets at locations with high pedestrian flow, such as shopping arcades close to the Bazaar, WR and LR stations, major bus stops, etc. to promote the products and specialty stalls of the Bazaar; and posts promotional posters at the housing estates in the district. TWGHs will advertise the Bazaar on buses and through promotional videos to be broadcast inside the buses. Upon completion of the relevant improvement works, TWGHs will invite the media to report on the Bazaar. TWGHs is responsible for the above publicity efforts and the related expenditure.
Since late March, TWGHs has organised the "Tin Sau Arts Fair" with booths of handicrafts and games every Saturday with a view to attracting more visitors. Customers who have spent $10 or more in the Bazaar may take part in the "Arts Fair" for free. Furthermore, TWGHs organised two training workshops on business skills in April to enhance the related skills of the stall operators. A total of 141 stall operators attended the two workshops. TWGHs will continue to organise different seminars on the retail market in order to sharpen stall operators' understanding of the market and the procurement of more competitive products with a view to attracting customers.
Since February this year, TWGHs and the Yuen Long District Office (YLDO) have held various community involvement activities respectively in the Bazaar and the adjacent Tin Sau Road Park to attract and engage the local residents. In respect of YLDO, the community involvement activities concerned have been planned previously. Now that the Bazaar or Tin Sau Road Park is being selected as the venue for holding the activities, no additional expenditure or manpower is involved. One of the community involvement activities held by YLDO was the "Yuen Long District Youth Festival Kick-off Ceremony 2013" at Tin Sau Road Park on May 5. YLDO also plans to organise activities such as the opening ceremony of "Colourful Life@Yuen Long" and "Tin Shui Wai North Area Committee Healthy Living Carnival cum Prize Presentation Ceremony" at the same venue later this year.
TWGHs and the Government hope to attract more visitors to the Bazaar through the above-mentioned enhancement measures and improve the operating environment of the Bazaar as well as the business skills of the stall operators. TWGHs and the Government will continue to closely monitor the operation of the Bazaar.
Ends/Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Issued at HKT 11:37