The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is consulting the District Councils (DCs), the Community Sports Committee (CSC) under the Sports Commission and the national sports associations from today (October 24) until December 18 on measures to improve the arrangements for the booking and allocation of recreation and sports facilities under its management. Members of the public are welcome to give their views to the department direct by post, email or facsimile.
In his Direct Investigation Report on the booking and use of sports facilities, the Ombudsman made a number of recommendations to improve the current mechanism and requested the LCSD to consult the stakeholders before implementation. The LCSD generally accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations and has planned to implement a series of measures in the next two years.
"Some of the improvement measures will involve significant changes to the existing booking arrangements, thus affecting both individual and organisation users of our facilities. We would, therefore, like to solicit the views of the public and the stakeholders before implementing these changes," an LCSD spokesman said.
The Ombudsman's recommendations and the LCSD's response have been set out in the Annex. The major points are:
* In respect of measures affecting individual bookings and to combat touting, shorten the current 30-day advance booking period to 10 days to reduce the time for selling the booked sessions for profit, and cap the number of hours allowed for individuals' bookings from two hours per day during peak hours for similar facilities at the same venue to a maximum of two sessions per day for similar facilities at all venues to avoid touting; restrict the identity documents used by individuals for booking facilities to the Hong Kong identity card only; review the current "stand-by" arrangements to see if they should be revised to minimise abuse; impose penalties on individuals who fail to show up or observe relevant regulations; and review the reallocation arrangements for inclement weather.
* In respect of measures affecting the hiring arrangements for organisations, review the three-month priority booking arrangements for organisations registered as limited companies; re-examine the quotas for organisations during peak hours; and review the notification period for cancellation of bookings and increase penalties for no-shows at hired sessions.
In fact, the LCSD has already completed a comprehensive review of the booking and allocation arrangements and implemented a number of improvement measures since September last year with pleasing results.
The measures implemented since September 2011 include improving the arrangements for telephone reservation where reservation has to be made at least three days in advance with payment made at least one day before the date of using the facilities; ceasing to accept identity documents other than the Hong Kong identity card for online registration as Leisure Link Patrons; upgrading the Leisure Link System to facilitate online booking; and strict enforcement of the check-in procedures by verifying the identity of hirers when they sign in.
The spokesman said, "There has all along been keen demand for the recreation and sports facilities from members of the public and organisations. We have endeavoured to improve the booking and allocation of the facilities by striking a fine balance between meeting the needs of people and preventing abuse.
"In the two-month consultation period, we will consult the 18 DCs and the CSC on the improvement measures. We will also seek the views of various sports associations on the proposed arrangements.
"Members of the public are also welcome to express their views to the department during this period. They can refer to the consultation documents uploaded to the LCSD's website at www.lcsd.gov.hk."
In addition, the LCSD will conduct a questionnaire survey at major recreation and sports facilities, including sports centres, tennis courts and turf soccer pitches in mid-December to gauge users' feedback on the proposed arrangements.
After analysing and studying the views collected, the department will revise the procedures and arrangements for booking and allocation of facilities, and upgrade the computer system to facilitate the implementation of the improvement measures. It is expected that the new measures will be put in place in phases starting from 2013 and be completed in 2014-15.
Ends/Wednesday, October 24, 2012