on 15 April 1999
PANEL ON PLANNING, LANDS AND WORKS
Proposed Control Scheme
for Advertisement Signboards
This paper seeks Members' views on a proposal for a control scheme for advertisement signboards.
2. At present, according to the Buildings Department's estimates, there are over 220,000 advertisement signboards in the territory and they are projected to increase at a rate of 3% per year. On the basis of a sample survey of signboards in Shamshuipo and Wanchai carried out by the Buildings Department (BD) in 1998, it is estimated that of the existing stock of the signboards in the territory about 2% are defective and about 10% are abandoned.
3. The Government's primary concern with advertisement signboards is public safety. Since 1996, BD has been conducting visual inspection of advertisement signboards and so far some 62,400 signboards have been inspected. The current monthly inspection target is 3,000 signboards.
4. It is the responsibility of owners of signboards to maintain or repair their signboards to ensure their safety. BD nevertheless takes immediate action against signboards found dangerous or likely to become dangerous, as a result of the programmed inspection or upon receipt of complaints from the public. Except for emergency cases and abandoned signboard cases in which BD will remove the signboards and will recover the costs from owners if found, the owners of signboards will be advised to repair or remove the signboards. Since 1996, some 1,400 signboards have been removed or repaired as a result of BD's inspection, of which about 400 were abandoned ones removed by BD. The expenditure expected to be incurred by BD in 1999/2000 on the removal of abandoned signboards is about $1 million.
PROPOSAL FOR CONTROL OF ADVERTISEMENT SIGNBOARDS
5. Our preliminary proposal for control of advertisement signboards is outlined below -
- advertisement signboards should be controlled by means of a registration scheme;
- it should be self-financing, to be funded by revenue from the charging of registration fees for advertisement signboards;
- certain signboards which pose low risks to public safety should be exempted from registration, e.g. typical shop-front signboards, signboards not exceeding certain dimensions, etc.;
- for existing signboards, there should be a grace period (say two years) for the registration of these signboards;
- after the grace period, applications for registration should be made within two months from erection and should be supported by documentary proof of signboards and ownership details, an undertaking on maintenance responsibility and certification of the structural safety of the signboards by registered signboard contractors. Where the size of a signboard is greater than five square metres and/or its thickness is greater than 300 millimetres, approval from the Building Authority is required for the structural details of the signboard;
- registered signboards should display registration numbers assigned to them; and
- registration is valid for a specified period, say 5 years.
6. To take forward this idea, we need to further consider the following issues -
- definition of signboard owners: it is essential to identify the owners of signboards so that the Government can readily approach them on follow-up action relating to the signboards such as repair or removal, recovery of the costs of repair or removal incurred by the Government. Our initial thinking is that the signboard owner should not only include the persons erecting the signboards, but also those whose goods, trade, etc. are being advertised and owners of the building/property to which the signboards are attached or on which they are erected;
- registration of signboard contractors: it is necessary to work out the qualification and experience requirements for contractors who can certify the structural safety of signboards;
- public liability: it is necessary to consider whether signboard owners should be required to take out insurance policies to cover incidents associated with the display of signboards. Our initial thinking is that signboard owners should be advised to take out insurance policies; and
- enforcement: it is necessary to put in place an effective and efficient enforcement mechanism. This could be built upon BD's current inspection programme for advertisement signboards. It is also for consideration what kind of measure could be most effective in preventing owners from abandoning their signboards.
7. We will formulate the details of the registration scheme in the light of the outcome of consultation with the Provisional District Boards and relevant parties over the next few months and revert to the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works after the summer recess.
Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau