LCQ19: Operation and management of Tin Sau Bazaar
The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Tin Sau Bazaar (Tin Sau Bazaar) in Tin Shui Wai, which was set up with the facilitation of the Government and under the operation and management of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs), aims to provide more shopping choices and affordable goods for the residents of Tin Shui Wai, develop the local economy and create employment opportunities for the residents. I have learnt that the Tin Sau Bazaar has fared unsatisfactorily in terms of both the visitor flow and the business turnover of the stalls since it commenced operation in February 2013. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows, in each year since the Tin Sau Bazaar commenced operation in 2013, (i) the number of stalls available for leasing, (ii) the number of applications received for stall tenancies, (iii) the stalls vacancy rate, (iv) the percentage of stall operators who renewed their tenancies, (v) the number of cases in which tenancies were not renewed due to the stall operators being no longer eligible and the detailed reasons, (vi) the number of visitors to the Bazaar, and (vii) the number of complaints received and their details;
(2) whether, in respect of the financial conditions of the Tin Sau Bazaar in the past five years, TWGHs has conducted a comprehensive review and given an account to the Government, including the annual (i) monthly rental income, (ii) expenses on related supporting facilities, (iii) publicity expenses and (iv) administrative costs; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it knows if TWGHs has comprehensively reviewed (i) the effectiveness of the publicity efforts for the Tin Sau Bazaar, (ii) the operating hours of the Bazaar and (iii) the arrangements for setting up cooked food stalls therein; if so, of the outcome of the review; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) whether it knows the details of the consultation conducted by TWGHs since 2013 with stakeholders (e.g. the Yuen Long District Council, local residents and stall operators) in respect of matters such as facilities, operation and publicity of the Tin Sau Bazaar;
(5) given that the site of the Tin Sau Bazaar was leased out to TWGHs by the Lands Department under a five-year short-term tenancy which will soon expire, whether the Government will select, through open tender, a new organisation for operating the Tin Sau Bazaar; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons and justifications for that; and
(6) whether it will require the organisation to be granted the new lease for operating the Tin Sau Bazaar to adopt new criteria for selecting stall operators; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Tin Sau Bazaar is operated by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) as a social enterprise with non-profit-making objectives, with the aims to provide more shopping choices and affordable goods for local residents, develop the local economy, and create local employment. Information provided by TWGHs on Tin Sau Bazaar's operational and financial position in response to Dr Hon Kwok's enquiry is set out below:
(1)(i) The number of stalls available for leasing was 182 at the commencement of TWGHs' operation of Tin Sau Bazaar in early 2013. TWGHs has since consolidated some of the stalls for optimising Tin Sau Bazaar. Currently, the number of stalls for leasing is 177;
(ii) the total numbers of applications for leasing the vacant stalls (i.e. not including renewal applications) received by Tin Sau Bazaar in 2014, 2015 and 2016 were 100, 185 and 224 respectively, while the number of applications received in 2017 up to September was 158;
(iii) taking July in 2013, 2015 and 2017 as example, the stall vacancy rates were 7 per cent, 14 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively;
(iv) upon the tenancy expiry at the start of year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the rates of successful renewal reached 93 per cent, 90 per cent, 92 per cent and 100 per cent respectively;
(v) some stall operators were ineligible for tenancy renewal mainly owing to (a) cumulative rental arrears of more than one month's rental before tenancy expiry, (b) failure to meet the requirements on the number of days of operation per month and the number of hours of operation per day as stipulated in the tenancy agreements for more than one month on a cumulative basis during the term of tenancy, and (c) having been issued with more than three warning letters on non-compliance within a year by the Office of Tin Sau Bazaar. Upon the tenancy expiry at the start of year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, there were respectively six, two, zero and zero non-renewal cases due to the reasons stated above;
(vi) as at September 2017, the cumulative patronage of Tin Sau Bazaar totalled three million. The number of visitors to Tin Sau Bazaar has been on the rise since 2013. Comparing to the average daily numbers of visitors on weekdays and holidays in July 2013, the corresponding numbers in the same period in 2015 have increased by about 200 per cent (to 1 500) and 76 per cent (to 2 200) respectively. The average daily number of visitor on weekdays in July 2017 has further increased to 1 750; and
(vii) in the past four years, TWGHs has received 17 complaints which mainly include disputes between stall operators and opinions on operational arrangements such as operating hours and signing-in procedures. Upon receipt of each complaint, TWGHs duly investigates, studies how to optimise the related facilities and arrangements, and improve.
(2) According to TWGHs, Tin Sau Bazaar has been leasing stalls to operators at rental levels which are far below the market rate. The monthly rent for most of the stall operators is set at $1,000 while that for adjoining stalls with a larger area is at $2,000. The rent has already covered the charge for the first 100 units of electricity, rates and management fees. In fact, no adjustment had been made to the rent since Tin Sau Bazaar commenced operation in 2013. Starting from early 2014, TWGHs has designated a small proportion of the stalls for open bidding by operators who have more experience in commercial operation with a view to diversifying the goods and services at Tin Sau Bazaar and making them more competitive. There are only 19 such stalls so far which accounts for about 11 per cent of the stalls. The amounts of rent for these stalls are determined by the open bidding. Taking 2016-17 as an example, the average monthly rental income of about $200,000 from Tin Sau Bazaar has been fully deployed for paying the day-to-day operating expenses including cleaning, security and maintenance of the Tin Sau Bazaar.
(3) According to TWGHs, it commissioned an independent academic institution in 2016 to conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of Tin Sau Bazaar. TWGHs is progressively taking forward the recommendations in the evaluation report which mainly include further establishing Tin Sau Bazaar's unique characters, introducing more featured snacks, improving facilities and adopting flexible management. On publicity, in light of the proposals in the report for Tin Sau Bazaar to consider arranging weekend performances to attract patronage, TWGHs now arranges the weekly "Tin Sau Weekend Market" featuring arts performance and street stalls. TWGHs staged in May this year the "Music Viva Day" when performances by the Hong Kong Community Philharmonic Orchestra were presented in Tin Sau Bazaar. In addition, TWGHs organises pre/post-festival fairs and carnivals of different themes at Tin Sau Bazaar, and makes available spaces there for district organisations to stage their events. Since April 2016, for example, other large-scale events held at Tin Sau Bazaar include the "South Asian Culture Experience Day", "Tin Sau Hui Mother's Day Fair", "Tin Sau Farmers' Market", "Tin Sau Retro Flea Market", "Tin Sau Magic Experience Day", "Tin Sau Mid-Autumn Fair", etc. The Working Group on Building a Safe Community in Yuen Long of the Yuen Long District Council (YLDC) plans to organise the "Yuen Long Safety and Health Carnival" at Tin Sau Bazaar in January 2018.
For the convenience of visitors and in response to the requests of stall operators, the operating hours of Tin Sau Bazaar have been extended to 10pm (the original operating hours being 8am to 8pm) since July 2017, with flexibility during festive seasons. For instance, to facilitate the "Tin Sau Mid-Autumn Fair" held in this month, the operating hours were extended to midnight, which was well-received by the stall operators and visitors. TWGHs will continue to strive for a balance between the daily life of nearby residents and the development needs of Tin Sau Bazaar by adjusting the operating hours flexibly as required.
As for cooked food stalls, the Advisory Committee on the Management of Tin Sau Bazaar (Advisory Committee) discussed and approved the introduction of stalls of featured snacks at Tin Sau Bazaar by the TWGHs in 2014. The report of the above-mentioned evaluation agrees to the provision of more snacks stalls so as to attract and keep visitors. Thus far, a total of six such stalls have been set up at Tin Sau Bazaar.
(4) TWGHs has been collecting the views of stall operators, YLDC members and other stakeholders through various channels, for instance, meetings with stall operators and the TWGHs' staff stationed at Tin Sau Bazaar. The Advisory Committee, which was set up in late 2013, also serves as a platform for thorough discussions among the elected representatives of stall operators and other stakeholders, including the representatives of TWGHs, government departments and YLDC, as well as academics and members of the community.
As stated in part (3) of this reply, TWGHs has commissioned an independent academic institution to conduct an evaluation of Tin Sau Bazaar during which 1 155 local residents, 79 stall operators, as well as six focus groups comprising a total of 47 stall operators, stall operators' representatives and members of the Advisory Committee, were interviewed. The views collected have been reflected in the evaluation report, and in turn formed the basis of the recommendations of the report.
(5) and (6) As Tin Sau Bazaar operates on a non-profit-making basis, it is the most appropriate for a non-profit-making organisation to run it as a social enterprise. Being one of the longest standing and largest charitable organisations in Hong Kong, TWGHs has considerable experience in running social enterprises. In response to the needs of the residents in Tin Shui Wai, TWGHs submitted the Tin Sau Bazaar proposal to the Government, indicating its interest in operating and managing Tin Sau Bazaar. Upon the Government's acceptance of the proposal, the Lands Department, with policy support, leased the site on January 25, 2013 by short-term tenancy to TWGHs at a nominal rate according to established procedures. The tenancy agreement signed at that time has stipulated a term of five years until January 24, 2018 and to be renewed quarterly thereafter.
Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:25
Issued at HKT 15:25