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Cancellation of standby arrangement for turf football pitches to continue

     A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced today (December 17) that the cancellation of the standby arrangement for turf football pitches will continue after the completion of the six-month trial period ending today.

     As one of the measures to guard against abuse of the standby arrangement for turf football pitches, the LCSD cancelled the arrangement on a trial basis on June 18 this year. A review has just been conducted to assess the impact and effectiveness of the trial scheme.

     Before the trial scheme was implemented, if a booked session for a turf football pitch was not claimed by the original hirer within 10 minutes after the start of the session, standby users would be allowed to take up use of the session for free.

     According to the data collected by the department, the average no-show rates for natural and artificial turf pitches during the period from July to September 2011 were 31 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. The high no-show rates, coupled with the 85 per cent and 87 per cent success rates of standby users taking up the no-show sessions for these two types of pitches, gave rise to concerns that the standby arrangement had been abused.

     "Since the implementation of the trial scheme in June, there has been a significant drop in the no-show rate for our turf football pitches," the LCSD spokesman said.

     "The average no-show rates dropped significantly to 4.7 per cent for natural turf pitches and 5.6 per cent for artificial turf pitches during the period from June 18 to the end of October 2013.

     "The statistics collected since the trial scheme began have indicated that the trial scheme is effective in containing abuse."

     The spokesman added that, notwithstanding the cancellation of the standby arrangement, the number of sessions left vacant in respect of the turf pitches had not registered a noticeable increase.

     "The average vacancy rates before the trial scheme was implemented were 4.4 per cent for natural turf pitches and 4.7 per cent for artificial turf pitches from July to September in 2011, while the respective rates for the period from June 18 to the end of October 2013 were 4.7 per cent and 5.6 per cent.

     "The two sets of data lend support to the fact that the trial arrangement has effectively reduced the no-show rate without deterioration in the wastage situation in which facilities were left unused. There is a strong case for maintaining the cancellation of the standby arrangement for turf football pitches."

     The LCSD has reported the results of the trial scheme to the Community Sports Committee under the Sports Commission. The committee was supportive of the recommendation to maintain the cancellation of the standby arrangement for turf football pitches upon completion of the trial scheme.

     Separately, to minimise the possibility of patrons using multiple identities in booking recreation and sports facilities and programmes, the LCSD ceased to accept online Leisure Link Patron registration with identity documents other than the Hong Kong identity card on August 20, 2012. The spokesman said that, to align the booking procedures at the counter with this arrangement, with effect from February 1, 2014, only the following types of identity documents/proof would be accepted for counter booking of facilities and enrolment in recreation and sports programmes:

* For Hong Kong residents: a Hong Kong identity card or birth certificate/Document of Identity for Visa Purposes (only for children under 11 years old)

* For non-Hong Kong residents: valid travel documents (e.g. passport or Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao)

     "In other words, a student handbook/card and a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Re-entry Permit will no longer be accepted as identity proof for counter booking from February 1 next year. Having said that, for bookings or enrolment by concessionary hirers (e.g. students or persons with disabilities), patrons are still required to produce supporting documents such as a student handbook/card or the Registration Card for Persons with Disabilities to prove their eligibility for the concessionary rates," the spokesman added.

     Currently, persons aged 60 or above, full-time students and persons with disabilities are eligible for the concessionary rates in using recreation and sports facilities for certain periods of time.

     The LCSD spokesman stressed that, in the event that a hirer books a facility at the concessionary rate but is found to be ineligible for such a rate, he or she would be refused the use of the booked facility without any refund or compensation, even if he or she had topped up the shortfall between the concessionary and normal rates at the Leisure Link self-service kiosks.

     "It is therefore important for hirers who are not eligible for concessionary rates to pay the normal rate when they book the facilities," the spokesman said.

Ends/Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:01


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