The Leisure and Cultural Services Department today (March 26) welcomed and accepted The Ombudsman’s comments on the operation of the Free Admission Scheme and agreed to recommendations which would serve as a reference if similar schemes were introduced in future.
The department was responding to The Ombudsman’s Direct Investigation Report on the Free Admission Scheme which was administered by the LCSD last year.
The report reveals that usage of most of the facilities had increased by 5% to 51% during the scheme period and the fact that more than half the hirers were infrequent hirers, demonstrated that the objective of enhancing people’s interest in sports and exercises had been achieved. The scheme was clearly welcome by many, as reflected by the support voiced by members of the public and by others through active participation.
The report states that in principle and in concept, the scheme was laudable. The objectives were certainly positive. Given the considerable scale (more than 3 million sessions in 150 facilities over 92 days) and in the summer months covering the long summer break, it was no easy task for LCSD. The Ombudsman considered that, broadly speaking, LCSD had discharged itself commendably. The report also reveals that, before the scheme was implemented, LCSD had taken realistic and reasonable steps to plan carefully for the anticipated influx of bookings under the scheme. The department was commended for acting promptly to rectify defects once detected.
A department spokesman said LCSD welcomed the Ombudsman’s recognition of its performance. The department found the recommendations constructive and they would be considered carefully and referred to when planning similar initiatives in the future.
The Free Admission Scheme was implemented from July and September in 2008. During the scheme, more than 12.8 million people used LCSD’s facilities, among which more than 7.62 million people used the swimming pool facilities, representing a surge of 70% from 2007. The average usage of many other facilities was near 80%, which is a record high since the establishment of the department in 2000.
Ends/Thursday, March 26, 2009