• Sun
  • Jul 13, 2014
  • Updated: 11:50am
NewsHong Kong
DEVELOPMENT

Lawmakers lament inaction over review of sports club leases

Government criticised for launching lease scrutiny decades after policy commitment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 February, 2014, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 February, 2014, 10:48am

Legislators yesterday criticised the government for not reviewing the system for granting land leases to private sports clubs despite repeated calls.

The Legislative Council's public accounts committee found it "unacceptable and inexcusable" that a review was set up only late last year even though the clubs were holding a "vast amount of land in light of the city's land shortage".

The committee lamented the Home Affairs Bureau's inaction that it said had lasted more than 40 years.

"The committee finds it unacceptable and inexcusable that the [bureau] only started to conduct a comprehensive review of the private recreational lease policy in September 2013, despite the fact that the Executive Council was informed by the administration in 1969 that [the policy] would be reviewed from time to time," committee chairman Abraham Razack told Legco.

The future of some of Hong Kong's best-known and most exclusive clubs is under scrutiny after the Audit Commission urged the government to consider taking back private clubhouses and putting the land to better use.

"The 27 sports clubs hold 320 hectares of land - that's a lot considering today's land shortage," committee vice-chairman Paul Tse Wai-chun said.

The committee urged the government to write detailed guidelines for clubs to report their use of the land in order to make it easier for outsiders to use the facilities.

The government has also come under fire for turning a deaf ear to a proposed permit system to manage roadside skips, despite support from the relevant trade associations and government departments in 2007.

"[The committee] expresses alarm and strong resentment, and finds it unacceptable [that] the proposed permit system was eventually not taken forward," the report said.

Another vice-chairman, Alan Leong Kah-kit, said 10 car accidents involving injury had occurred while the Transport Department did not act. "A total of 15 people were injured in the 10 accidents that happened between 2009 and 2013 because of road skips - four of them suffered serious injuries," Leong said.

A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said they will set up a joint working group, involving at least seven departments and led by the Environment Bureau, to explore ways to better manage the skips.

 

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5

This article is now closed to comments

onedistrict
What about the disorderly newspaper vendors, whose street-side stalls tend to grow to the size of mini retail shops during the busiest period of the day .....
XYZ
I'm in favour of preserving recreational clubs in Hong Kong. I see little benefit in burying them in concrete and replacing them with more high-rise buildings.
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However, so long as the private clubs are located on public land, they should be required to either (1) pay rent at market or near-market rates or (2) grant much greater access at nominal cost to the public.
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If they can't manage that, then their leases should be cancelled and the land resumed for disposition by the government, one option being to run the resumed club as a public facility.
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sammckhk
we know who Razak represents in legco - the developers - so of course he wants the government to take back the club sites, especially the prime sites in So Kon Po or King's Park, so that his friends / constituents ( the less than 100 or so of them that have a vote for their own legco rep to protect and promote their interests) can buy them and build apartments that they can sell to mainlanders
rpasea
I thought this issue was resolved last year with govt. renewing club leases. Is this going to be an annual audit/review going forward? Impossible to plan capital works at any club that may have a year or less left on its license.
XYZ
FYI, the HAB's stated intention is that every club is going to be renewed this year on present terms for a final 15-year lease and then no promises beyond that.
 
 
 
 
 

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