LCQ20: Play equipment in children's playgrounds
In May last year, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong released the findings of a survey on 18 children's playgrounds (playgrounds) under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Housing Department (HD), which showed that the hygiene conditions of such playgrounds were poor, the play equipment therein was insufficient, and some of the play equipment was boring and dilapidated, resulting in unsatisfied playing needs of children. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether LCSD and HD have, in response to the aforesaid survey findings, improved the hygiene conditions of their playgrounds by, for example, installing disinfectant dispensers in those playgrounds; if so, of the specific measures and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) of the criteria currently adopted by LCSD and HD for deciding whether to provide additional play equipment in their playgrounds;
(3) whether LCSD and HD will consider introducing in their playgrounds some play equipment which is more interesting, inspiring and challenging so as to foster the physical development of children; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) whether LCSD and HD have plans to improve the procedure for inspecting as well as maintaining and repairing the play equipment in their playgrounds, with a view to expediting the repair of damaged equipment; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(5) as some parents have relayed that the existing play equipment in some playgrounds only caters for younger children, whether LCSD and HD will consider providing in their playgrounds play equipment which caters for senior primary and junior secondary students; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(6) as some parents have relayed that most children prefer play equipment that is more challenging (e.g. swings, free-standing climbing frames and three-metre-high free-standing slides), whether LCSD will consider providing such equipment in selected playgrounds in each District Council district; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(7) of the public rental housing estates where no playground is provided at present; whether HD will consider providing playgrounds in those estates; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(8) as the information provided by the authorities, in response to a question raised by a Member of this Council at the Council meeting of December 7 last year, showed that the provision of play equipment in the playgrounds located in Kwai Tsing, the North District, Tai Po and Tuen Mun was obviously insufficient (e.g. the playgrounds in Kwai Tsing and Tuen Mun had no free-standing slide, and the various playgrounds in the North District, Tai Po and Tuen Mun respectively had only one free-standing climbing frame in total), whether LCSD will provide, in the playgrounds of the aforesaid districts, the play equipment that is currently unavailable in such playgrounds; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) are committed to providing diversified play equipment in playgrounds under their management for children of different ages. My reply to the eight parts of the question is as follows:
(1) LCSD attaches great importance to the cleanliness and hygiene of the venues under its management. In addition to daily cleansing, thorough cleaning by service contractor is also arranged on a regular basis for playgrounds. The toilets in the playgrounds managed by LCSD are provided with wash basins and liquid soap for venue users.
As regards the playground areas in public rental housing (PRH) estates, cleansing service contractors of HA are required under estate contracts to conduct regular cleaning. In general, contractors will clean the playground equipment once a week. Furthermore, estate staff will patrol estate common areas every day. If any playground equipment is found dirty, contractors will be required to conduct cleaning immediately. HA will continue to closely monitor the hygienic condition of playground areas in its estates. Depending on the actual circumstances of individual estates, cleaning and disinfection will be enhanced to ensure cleanliness and hygiene of the equipment.
(2) In the planning of children's playgrounds and the selection of play equipment, LCSD and relevant works departments will consider a host of factors including topographic feature, site area and circumstances, relevant international safety standards, needs of different users and views of the District Councils concerned. Together they will formulate an overall playground design concept, work out the preliminary design and provide diversified children's play equipment and play components.
When considering the installation of new outdoor children playground equipment in existing PRH estates, HA will consider various factors, such as changes in the demographic structure of individual estates, actual needs of residents, usage of facilities and site circumstances etc.; and will consult the Estate Management Advisory Committees concerned with a view to providing appropriate playground equipment to address residents' needs.
(3) LCSD has been liaising with concern groups on children's play equipment and consulting them and the District Councils concerned on the design and play equipment in children's playgrounds for constant improvement. In 2016, LCSD, in collaboration with the works departments, adopted the winning design of the Inclusive Play Space Design Ideas Competition as a prototype to build an innovative inclusive playground in Tuen Mun Park as part of a pilot scheme. The playground is expected to open for public use within 2017. LCSD will examine and draw reference from findings of the pilot scheme, keep in contact with concern groups, consult relevant organisations and District Councils concerned with a view to further improving the facilities of its playgrounds.
When designing individual public housing development projects, HA will make reference to guidelines under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines and endeavor to provide a variety of facilities for use by people of different ages and abilities as far as practicable. Also, HA will from time to time review products available in the market with a view to providing playground equipment, which can meet international safety standards and at the same time fulfill residents' needs.
(4) Children's play equipment under the management of LCSD has been well-received by the public with very heavy usage. Venue staff carry out daily inspection on the play equipment to ensure that they are safe and fit for use by children. In addition, LCSD staff carry out inspection for the facilities at least once every two weeks and conduct regular checking. The facility maintenance unit will be notified immediately of any damage and follow up on the repair works. LCSD has also kept stock of the spare parts commonly required for repairs to shorten the time required for repair works. For those facilities which are badly worn out and need partial or whole replacement of equipment, it may take longer to complete the procurement and installation. LCSD staff will inspect the facilities from time to time and accord priority to repairing them so as to minimise the inconvenience caused by the damaged facilities to the public.
The Housing Department management staff will conduct routine inspections on the playground equipment in PRH estates to ensure its proper maintenance and repair. If any such equipment is found damaged, the management staff will notify contractors concerned, who will then arrange a qualified safety inspector to conduct further detailed inspection and proper repair. Moreover, HA engages an independent safety consultant to inspect playground equipment of all PRH estates over the territory biennially. The consultant will submit reports to facilitate HA's follow-up on the upgrading and replacement of appropriate components, in order to enhance safety standards of the equipment and the protection over the safety of residents.
(5) LCSD is committed to providing diversified play equipment in playgrounds for children of different ages and abilities to help balanced development of their mind and body through playing and acquiring different skills. Most of the children’s playgrounds managed by LCSD provide play equipment for groups of children aged between two and five as well as five and 12.
When designing individual public housing development projects, HA will make reference to guidelines under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines and endeavor to provide a variety of facilities for use by people of different ages and abilities as far as practicable. In addition to playground equipment for children in general, HA will provide, where appropriate and as far as practicable, a wide range of active and passive recreational facilities such as basketball court, mini soccer pitch, badminton court, table tennis table, green open space, fitness equipment for the elderly, etc., in its development projects to cater for different people.
(6) As mentioned in (2) above, LCSD and its works departments will take into account a host of factors in providing diversified children's play equipment and play components. Most of the children's playgrounds under the management of LCSD adopt multi-play equipment and play components, comprising slides, swings and climbing frames, etc., while some of the venues also provide free-standing slides, swings and climbing frames. LCSD is prepared to consider providing more play equipment with creative design in appropriate locations when there is a need to replace old play equipment or install new play equipment in the future.
(7) Currently, children playground equipment is provided in all PRH estates of HA.
(8) The distribution of play equipment provided by LCSD in Kwai Tsing, North District, Tai Po and Tuen Mun are at Annex. LCSD currently provides multi-play equipment at most of the children's playgrounds in the districts mentioned above and will consider providing more play equipment of different types in future.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:32
Issued at HKT 12:32