Officials have dropped the idea of replacing 83,000 signs overnight when the municipal councils are scrapped on December 31, in the face of a $100 million bill to replace them. Instead the signs will be left to wear out, admitted Maureen Chan Leung Mong-lin, deputy head of the Taskforce on Reorganisation of Municipal Services. Mrs Chan and Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying, who heads the taskforce, have been discussing the progress made in restructuring municipal services. Mrs Yam, formerly head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said she had started lobbying legislators to support transferring the municipal council services to a new bureau and departments. The new bodies include the Environment and Food Bureau, the Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Mrs Yam is expected to head the new bureau after the bill is passed by legislators this year. Mrs Yam will lobby all members of Legco, she said, when asked if legislators from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong were the main targets. DAB members are divided over the revamp. 'I will lobby for the support of every legislator including those non-affiliated members,' she said. However, Mrs Yam remained tight-lipped on the lobbying tactics and contingency plans if the revamp was voted down. She was confident the public would support the government proposal after more details of how the new structure would work were released. Mrs Yam said that further contracting-out of some services would continue to be studied. But she stressed that it was an ongoing exercise and un-related to the reorganisation. Further plans to contract out services would not be finalised in the first year of the new structure, she said. Some of the services, including refuse collection, have already been contracted out. Staff have expressed worries that they will be made redundant after the councils are scrapped. The Urban Services and the Regional Services departments currently employ about 30,000 staff. Mrs Yam said contingency plans would continue to be studied to tackle a situation such as the bird flu crisis which broke out in late 1997.