PLC Panel on Home Affairs
Meeting on 15 December 1997
Overhanging Advertisement Signboards Outside Buildings
This paper addresses the issues raised in the letter of 19 November 1997 from the Clerk to Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Home Affairs. The issues are (i) the safety and (ii) the regulatory system for the control of overhanging advertisement signboards, including pornographic signboards, outside buildings.
2.Public safety is Government's primary concern. Government policy is that advertisement signboards which are dangerous or likely to become dangerous will be removed or repaired.
Current practice to control dangerous advertisement signboards
3.The Buildings Department (BD) investigates any complaint about or report on dangerous advertisement signboards. Since late 1994, BD has also been carrying out planned surveys of advertisement signboards. Any signboard identified as posing potential danger to members of the public will be removed either by the owners or, if necessary, by BD which in turn will recover the costs from the owners concerned.
4.In the past three years, BD inspected about 32,000 advertisement signboards and removed or repaired 940 of them. Since July 1997, BD has intensified its planned surveys with a view to increasing the number of inspections each month from an average of 900 in the past three years to 3,000.
Licensing of advertisement signboards
5.The Administration previously considered the pros and cons of the introduction of a licensing scheme to control advertisement signboards. The conclusion was that such a scheme would not offer substantial advantages over the existing enforcement actions which focus on potentially dangerous signboards.
6.In view of the continuous concern expressed by the public, the Administration is revisiting the idea of a licensing scheme, and examining the practicalities, the likely problems and possible solutions, and the financial implications of such a scheme for both the signboard owners and Government. No conclusion has been reached yet.
Responsibilities of owners' corporations (OCs)
7.OCs can exercise their powers in dealing with signboards at their buildings. Under Sections 14 and 18 of the Building Management Ordinance (Cap.344), an OC has the powers and duty to maintain the common parts of the building in a state of good and serviceable repair and clean condition; and may exercise control, management and administration of the common parts. If the external wall or roof of a building pertains to the common parts, owners may pass a resolution at a general meeting of the owners to control or remove the advertisement signboards at the common parts and such a resolution is binding on all of the owners. The OC can therefore enforce the resolution against the signboards. In addition, pursuant to Section 45 of and the Tenth Schedule to the Building Management Ordinance (Cap.344), an OC may apply to the Lands Tribunal for an injunction against the owners erecting signboards at the common parts of the building.
Control of pornographic signboards outside buildings
8.As regards the control of pornographic signboards, the Police are empowered under Section 147B of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap.200) to remove such signboards. In the past two years, the Police launched a series of publicity and prosecution programme to curb the pornographic signboards in densely-populated Mongkok. Since 1997, the Police have stepped up enforcement against pornographic signboards by carrying out an average of three removal operations per week. The persons responsible for erecting the signboards were prosecuted. Since 1 January 1996, a total of 6,601 pornographic signboards have been removed. [But they are usually quickly replaced, sometimes within 24 hours.]
9.The Yau Tsim Mong District Office has, as part of the Environmental Improvement Campaign, utilised funds from the Provisional District Board (PDB) to subsidize OCs in the District to remove abandoned advertisement signboards. Since 1995, 22 OCs have been subsidized and 55 abandoned advertisement signboards have been removed. There are no reason why other PDBs cannot adopt the same practice, subject of course, to the individual PDB's decision.
10.Any constructive comments on how the Administration could further control the overhanging advertisement signboards outside buildings, pending the introduction of a full-scale licensing scheme, will be welcome.
Home Affairs Bureau