PANEL ON PLANNING, LANDS AND WORKS
Control of Display of Non-Commercial Publicity Material
This paper informs Members of the outcome of the Administration's review of a trial scheme on the control of the display of non-commercial publicity material and the extension of the scheme territory-wide.
2. The Urban Services Department and the Regional Services Department are responsible for removing commercial publicity and unauthorized non-commercial publicity material displayed at public places. In response to complaints about the nuisance caused to the public by such unauthorized non-commercial material, we have drawn up a new control scheme on which we briefed the former relevant Legislative Council panel in 1996. Since 1 November 1996, we have tested the viability of the scheme in Wan Chai on a trial basis.
3. Under the trial scheme in Wan Chai, the District Lands Office/Hong Kong West identified 100 designated spots for display of non-commercial publicity material from Government departments and the public, and invited applications for the use of these spots every month. The Office accepted no more than one application, covering a group of five spots, from each applicant for each display period. Successful applicants were allowed to display their publicity material for a calendar month, less the last two days. Five designated spots were reserved for use by Government departments.
4. The Office allocated the designated spots and, where necessary, carried out a ballot which the applicants were invited to witness. Any spots remaining after the ballot were allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Spots assigned were not transferable.
5. The Urban Services Department deployed a dedicated team to take daily enforcement action against any publicity material displayed at locations other than the designated spots, regardless of whether it was commercial or not. Unauthorised material displayed at designated spots and any material displayed beyond their authorised display period was removed by the successful applicant, or by the Urban Services Department upon request.
6. The Administration reviewed the trial scheme and the findings of our review are as follows -
- most of the designated spots were taken up, although competition among applicants was not particularly keen;
- there was a visible improvement in the environment of the district and the amount of the unauthorised publicity material was markedly reduced to a few dozen posters, banners etc, compared with hundreds before the trial scheme;
- the scheme was supported by the then Wanchai District Board and by local residents; and
- during the period from 1 November 1996 (when the trial scheme first started) to 30 April 1998, over 105 686 unauthorised items of publicity material were removed, 195 prosecutions instituted (of which 92 were against beneficiaries who had been previously warned and 103 were against those caught red-handed), and 57 warning letters issued to newly found beneficiaries in respect of commercial material.
7. The Administration has therefore concluded that the trial scheme was a success. It enabled the Government to take more effective and efficient enforcement action against the display of unauthorised publicity material. As part of the review, the Administration accepted the following suggestions from the public, the then Wanchai District Board and other local organisations -
- the designated spots should be more evenly spread out;
- Legislative Council members should each be allocated one designated spot in each of the 18 districts. Each Provisional Municipal Council member should be allocated one designated spot in each of the 9 districts in his own constituency whereas each Provisional District Board member should each be allocated five designated spots in his own district to advertise their ward offices; and
- posters should be allowed to face both the pavement and the roadway.
The Way Forward
8. Given the success of the trial scheme, the Government will implement the scheme territory-wide by means of contracting out the processing of applications under the scheme. The implementation will be in two phases, the first phase covering the New Territories, and the second phase Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Lands Department is arranging five separate tenders for -
- Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and North;
- Sha Tin, Sai Kung and Tai Po;
- Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and Islands;
- Hong Kong Island; and
The first three tenders are planned to be called by the end of 1998 and the remaining by mid 1999. Suitable publicity will be arranged after each tender award.
9. The Urban Services Department and the Regional Services Department will continue taking enforcement action within their existing resources under the scheme as follows -
- removal of publicity material displayed outside designated spots; and
- removal of unauthorised publicity material displayed at designated spots and any material displayed beyond their authorised display period.
Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau