Councillors baulk at bill for Fairview Park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 12:00am

Yuen Long district councillors yesterday objected to a government plan that seeks HK$1.5 million from the council to pay for maintenance of Fairview Park Boulevard.

Their comments came after the government proposed subsidising residents of the Yuen Long estate to maintain the boulevard while a new HK$100 million road is built to divert container trucks. The administration plans to seek HK$1.5 million from the council once the proposal is accepted by Fairview Park residents and Tai Sang Wai villagers, who have been disputing use of the private road for more than a decade.

'The government gives HK$300 million to the 18 districts to carry out small construction projects to improve facilities in their districts every year. The money will come from the fund for Yuen Long district,' a Home Affairs Department spokeswoman said.

But the chairman of the council's district facilities management committee, Lee Yuet-man, said the council did not have enough money.

'The council already has plans for many small projects, which have already consumed funds for the budget years of 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. We really have no spare money for Fairview Park,' Mr Lee said, adding that Yuen Long district was given about HK$19.6 million every year for small construction projects. 'The saga over the use of Fairview Park Boulevard is a private dispute. Why should district councillors approve a plan which uses public money to solve a private dispute?'

About 40 district councillors sit on the district facilities management committee, and nearly half of them have told Mr Lee they will not support the plan when the issue is tabled for discussion by the council.

'I really doubt if the proposal will be approved. It is a must for the government to seek approval from the committee I chair in order to get the money,' Mr Lee said.

Luk Chung-hung, who chairs the council's traffic and transport committee, said he would not support the plan.

'Our budget is already very tight. Many projects are waiting to be done. There is no spare money for that and it is unreasonable to do that,' he said.

The department said it would explain the proposal to the district council in great detail to win councillors' support once the department had obtained approval from the Fairview Park developer.

Yuen Long district councillor Man Fu-wan, who is also chairman of the San Tin Rural Committee, met Executive Council member Lau Wong-fat and Fairview Park property management last night.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Man said he would support the HK$1.5 million road-maintenance subsidy plan.

'I think the government will find a way to find the money. I am not too worried about the budget problem,' he said.

Traffic was running smoothly on Fairview Park Boulevard yesterday, with all container trucks following the new arrangement implemented by estate property management on Sunday - using Kam Pok Road instead of the private road.

On Monday, about a dozen Tai Sang Wai villagers blocked entrances and exits to Fairview Park, and village representatives threatened to escalate protest action if the estate management failed to give them an acceptable solution tomorrow.