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LCQ12: Pleasure Grounds Regulation

     Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (November 28):


     Regarding the management of public pleasure grounds (including leisure facilities) under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  given that section 20(1)(c) of the Pleasure Grounds Regulation (Cap. 132, sub. leg. BC) provides that "[n]o person shall, in any pleasure ground, sell, or offer or expose for sale, or let to hire, or offer or expose for letting to hire, any commodity or article, unless, in pursuance of an agreement with the Director or otherwise in exercise of any lawful right or privilege, such person is authorised to sell or let to hire in such pleasure ground such commodity or article", whether the "commodity or article" referred to in this provision includes fee-charging personal instructions or coaching services;

(b)  of the number of cases in which the hirers' rights to use the facilities were revoked due to their contravention of the Pleasure Grounds Regulation in the past three years;

(c)  of the measures currently taken by LCSD to prevent hirers from misusing pleasure grounds, and the details;

(d)  whether any decoy operations had been carried out in the past three years to detect misuse of pleasure grounds by hirers; if so, of the numbers of such operations and the cases involving contravention of the Regulation; if not, whether it will consider carrying out such operations; and

(e)  given that LCSD's current online electronic system for booking leisure facilities by the public is unable to show the whole-day booking situation of individual facilities, whether the authorities will consider enhancing the system to facilitate the public to get information about the time slots available for booking of leisure facilities more easily, so as to increase the utilisation rates of facilities?



(a)  According to the Pleasure Grounds Regulation (Regulation) (Cap. 132BC), the words "commodity or article" for sale or hire in a pleasure ground refer to any tangible article offered for sale or hire, but do not include fee-charging personal instruction or coaching services.

     The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) continually promotes "Sport for All" and encourages public participation in leisure activities and the delivery of such activities by organisations in order to foster a sporting culture in the community. At present, it is quite common for members of the public to teach their children or friends sports skills, or for paid coaches to teach learners at sports venues such as tennis and badminton courts. We consider it normal that beginners should learn sports skills and receive training at sports venues. The prohibition of paid coaching would not only detract from LCSD's basic objective of promoting sport but would also fail to address a real public demand. In order to promote sport, we will allow coaching at LCSD's sports venues, irrespective of whether or not it is paid for, and as long as it is carried out in an orderly manner and does not cause any nuisance to other venue users.

(b)  According to records, in the past three years there have been no cases of users' rights to use a pleasure ground managed by LCSD being revoked due to violation of the Regulation.

(c)  To prevent the misuse of recreation and sports facilities, LCSD will arrange for staff to conduct venue inspections. People found to be misusing facilities will be asked to cease such conduct. If they do not do so, they will be asked to leave the venue. If a person is in breach of the Regulation and the breach persists despite repeated advice, venue staff will initiate a prosecution.

     As from being used for recreational and sports purposes, the leisure venues managed by LCSD are also available for hire by organisations for non-designated uses. At present, all applications for non-designated use of venues are processed according to the Guidelines for Use of Leisure Venues for Non-designated Use and the charging arrangement drawn up by LCSD. In general, applicants are required to submit applications and relevant information to the department three months before the proposed date of use. LCSD issues an approval letter to successful applicants, setting out the conditions for hiring the venue for non-designated use. For example, the hirer shall not allow any distribution or sale of refreshments or commodities, or solicit donations from participants of the function except with the prior permission of LCSD. LCSD may request the hirer to surrender the venue if the hirer breaches any of LCSD's conditions of use.

     LCSD has also put in place a penalty system that applies to the hiring of venues by organisations. If an organisation receives two default notices for breaching the booking arrangements and conditions of use of recreation and sports facilities for the same venue within a period of 12 months, it will be suspended from booking LCSD venues for one year.

(d)  LCSD aims to prevent the transfer of user permits and the misuse of facilities by verifying hirers' identity documents and inspecting venues. Monitoring of the use of the venues in question is strengthened when complaints or reports of suspected misuse are received. Although no decoy operations have been carried out, LCSD has arranged for "mystery users" to visit venues managed by the department to check that venue staff are fully implementing identity verification procedures.

     According to our records, in the past three years, LCSD has handled 16 cases of unauthorised transfer or suspected selling of user permits of leisure facilities. In a case investigated by the department in 2010-11, a person was charged by the Police with "using a false document", for using a booked facility with an altered booking acknowledgement. The person was subsequently convicted. For the remaining cases, with the exception of one that is still under investigation, no further action was taken due to insufficient evidence.

(e)  At present, members of the public can enquire about the whole-day booking position at LCSD's leisure facilities through the Leisure Link Telephone Services Centre or the more than 150 LCSD booking counters, and can make bookings at booking counters, on the Internet, by telephone and at self-service kiosks.

     The Leisure Link Internet Booking Service provides individual web pages for each of the following three periods: 7am-1pm, noon-7pm and 6pm-11pm to facilitate public enquiries and the booking of consecutive sessions within a period of several hours.  The page layout for booking reduces the pressure on the computer system and provides a quick booking service, especially during the peak hour for bookings and enquiries at 7am.

     The provision of a whole-day booking webpage would increase the loading on the Leisure Link system and affect regular functioning and the smooth handling of transactions. LCSD therefore currently does not plan to set up a whole-day booking webpage.

Ends/Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:11


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