Councillors seek legal backing for fencing of trails
Unable to persuade their constituents that a safety rail is needed on a popular Pok Fu Lam walking trail, local politicians have asked the Department of Justice if they could be legally liable for any accidents there in future.
Central and Western district councillors acted after nearly 550 people signed a petition protesting against their decision to put the rail along Hatton Road while only 10 supported the plan.
A council working group set up to oversee the controversial project has told campaigner Vivian Leung Tai Yuet-kam, who collected the signatures, that it had sought the advice.
'They are asking whether Central and Western District Council and its members, who have received repeated requests from the public to erect railings, would be held legally responsible if there are accidents at Hatton Road in future which can be prevented by the provision of railings,' the group said in a letter to Leung.
Leung, chairwoman of Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group, replied that there were plenty of other things the councillors could do if they were really concerned about walkers' safety.
'Cleaning up the air is far more urgent than installing railings,' said Leung, who has campaigned for years against railings on several walking trails in the area and plans for a stone wall in Old Peak Road.
'The pavements in Central and Western district are getting narrower and narrower, there are fewer and fewer zebra-crossings so walking is becoming increasingly dangerous.'
District councillor Tanya Chan said she was shocked to hear of the move. 'I am unaware of their decision,' the Civic Party member said. 'Whether railings should be put up along a walking trail is a decision made by district politicians. So they want the Department of Justice to make a legal decision for them and save them from making a political decision. If that's the case, they shouldn't be politicians in the first place.'
Leung said the walking trails were very safe. 'Officials in the past gave us very well designed walking trails, so there have never been any accidents. Also, walkers are on high alert when they are hiking, so the district councilors don't have to worry about our safety.'
The chairman and vice-chairman of the council's district facilities management committee, Sidney Lee Chi-hang and Jackie Cheung Yick-hung, could not be reached.