Site delays leave services in doubt

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 September, 1995, 12:00am

SEVEN premises have been secured for social welfare projects, but another 79 will be needed by 1997 to achieve Mr Patten's targets.

Welfare groups fear services, especially for the handicapped, will be delayed.

Many key targets set by Mr Patten in his policy speech have not been achieved on schedule, mainly because of difficulties in securing suitable sites.

In his first progress report released in September last year, Mr Patten said only six of 22 promised social welfare undertakings had been completed.

Services that might not be achieved in full include the establishment of 70 additional social centres for the elderly, 14 multi-service centres for the elderly, 56,000 day nursery places and 1,200 day creche places for children.

The Government announced in the March Budget that it would earmark $2.5 billion to buy private premises for social welfare services projects.

Paul Wong Po-wah, assistant director of social welfare (subvention), said the Government had secured premises in Kowloon City, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Eastern, Central and Western.

These will be for three social centres for the elderly, two day nurseries and one home-help team.

A provisional purchase agreement has been signed for two premises to establish a home-help team and a day nursery.

The Government is also discussing more than 20 premises with landlords.

An additional 47 premises have to be bought by the end of March, and 32 in the 1996-97 financial year to achieve the social welfare targets set by Mr Patten.

About half the premises the agency initially suggested were rejected because they failed to meet basic requirements for fire safety, access and size.

But Mr Wong said the situation had improved now with better communication from the agency.

But Lee Kar-mut, of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service's elderly service division, said he doubted the targets could be achieved on time.

He said day care centres might be easy to look for, but residential homes that required a special setting were more difficult.

'At present, these homes are usually set up in public housing estates where purpose-built premises have been reserved. It will be difficult to look for places in private.'