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Most LCSD swimming pools to be partially open tomorrow

The following is the full speech given by the Deputy Director of Leisure and Cultural Services (Leisure Services), Mr Alan Siu, at a press briefing this afternoon (August 18):

We are disappointed that the Hong Kong and Kowloon Life Guards' Union will carry out another strike tomorrow that will affect the services of public swimming pools and beaches. We believe that members of the public will not wish the Union to express its views by repeatedly affecting public services at the peak of the swimming season. Such moves will go against the will of the public.

We are still trying our best to call on our lifeguards to stay in their posts.

The Union has announced to take the strike from noon to 6.30pm tomorrow. We have evaluated the effect of the strike on the services at public swimming pools and beaches tomorrow. According to the information presently available, we project that all 36 public swimming pools will be open or partially open tomorrow morning, while a great majority of the pools will be open or partially open tomorrow afternoon. As for the 32 beaches, we assess that lifesaving services will be provided at most of them.

We attach great importance to swimmers' safety. We will only open the swimming facilities when sufficient qualified lifeguards are on duty. At this time, we estimate that there will be about 110 qualified voluntary lifeguards and about 160 first-aiders from the Auxiliary Medical Services rendering service tomorrow to maintain the services at our pools and beaches. I would like to express my deep gratitude to colleagues of all grades who will stay in their posts tomorrow and volunteers offering assistance to us. I stress that all these voluntary lifeguards are qualified lifeguards holding Pool Lifeguard Award or Beach Lifeguard Award issued by the Hong Kong Life Saving Society.

When we say 'partially opening swimming pools', we mean opening the secondary pools, training pools or leisure pools according to lifeguards available. Please note that the capacity of these swimming facilities will be smaller than when the pool complexes are fully open.

Regarding swimming pools, we estimate that one swimming complex, namely the Jockey Club Yan Oi Tong Swimming Pool, cannot provide services tomorrow afternoon due to the lack of sufficient lifeguards. As regards beaches, we now estimate that lifeguard services cannot be provided tomorrow at 11 beaches, namely St Stephen's Beach, Chung Hom Kok Beach, Middle Bay Beach, Deep Water Bay Beach, Repulse Bay Beach, South Bay Beach, Stanley Main Beach, Cafeteria Old Beach, Cafeteria New Beach, Kadoorie Beach and Butterfly Beach.

As the strike will start at noon tomorrow, it will affect the handover time of am and pm shift lifeguards. To avoid confusion and to ensure there will be sufficient lifeguards on duty, all swimming pools opening times in the afternoon tomorrow will be changed from 1pm to 2pm. We have already put out the announcements in our pools today.

Furthermore, we now estimate that about 850 swimming classes that have booked LCSD swimming lanes will have to be cancelled tomorrow after noon time and over 22,000 participants will be affected. We will arrange replacement classes for these swimming classes or refunds. All swimming classes before noon will continue to proceed. Our pool staff have already got in touch with the swimming classes to make necessary arrangements.

Normal services will be maintained at the four water sports centres and swimming pools at the three holiday camps.

We sincerely apologise to members of the public for the service disruption caused by the Union's strike at swimming pools and beaches tomorrow.

Six swimming pools, namely the Wan Chai Swimming Pool, Sham Shui Po Park Swimming Pool, Morse Park Swimming Pool, Mui Wo Swimming Pool, Kwai Shing Swimming Pool and Sha Tin Jockey Club Swimming Pool, will undergo their routine weekly cleaning operation tomorrow as scheduled. The cleaning operation will proceed as normal and these swimming pools will be closed from 10am to late afternoon for cleaning.

We will release details on the opening of swimming pools and beaches to the media tomorrow morning and afternoon. Members of the public are requested to pay attention to the radio and television broadcasts, visit the website of the LCSD, , or call the Government hotline, 1823, for enquiries. For the swimming pools that cannot be opened or can only be partially opened, we will display clear notices at the venues and make announcements through the public address system. For beaches that cannot be opened, we will hoist red flags, display notices and make public announcements. Our staff will also advise swimmers not to swim at those beaches.

Finally, I would like to call on the Union again to put serving the community first and cancel the strike tomorrow. Outsourcing the management of new facilities is our existing government policy and it will not in any way affect any of our existing staff. I hope all lifeguards will stay in their posts, work with dedication and display their professionalism so that members of the public will be able to enjoy swimming safely.

Ends/Thursday, August 18, 2005
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