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LCQ17: Removal of dangerous and abandoned signboards

Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee Wai-king and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 3):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective numbers, according to the Buildings Department's information, of dangerous and abandoned signboards in each District Council (DC) district at present;

(b) in respect of each DC district, of the respective numbers of signboards inspected, removal orders issued, prosecutions instituted and signboards removed by the authorities since January this year; the average and longest time taken between inspection and removal of the signboards; the expenditure involved in the removal operations and the total amount recovered by the authorities from the signboard owners or landlords concerned;

(c) how the figures in (b) compare with those of last year;

(d) for cases in which the signboards are potentially dangerous but the owners or landlords concerned cannot be contacted, whether an approach of "remove first and investigate later" will be adopted for safety's sake; and

(e) given that the financial tsunami has led to an increase in unemployment, whether the authorities will allocate more resources to remove dangerous and abandoned signboards, thereby creating employment opportunities and ensuring public safety; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

The reply to the five-part question is as follows:

(a) the Buildings Department (BD) estimates that there are some 200,000 signboards over the territory but does not have a breakdown on the number of dangerous and abandoned signboards located in each of the 18 District Council districts.

(b) & (c) The BD issues statutory orders to demand the removal of dangerous, abandoned or unauthorised signboards. For dangerous or abandoned signboards, Dangerous Structure Removal Notices (DSRNs) under section 105(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) will be issued. The BD also issues orders under section 24 of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) (BO) to remove unauthorised signboards that are under construction, newly erected or included in BD's large-scale operations in accordance with the enforcement policy against unauthorised building works. Detailed breakdown on the numbers of signboards inspected, orders/notices issued, summonses issued and signboards removed; costs of removal of signboards and the amount of the costs recovered in 2007 and 2008 (up to end of October) is shown in Annex.

Dangerous signboards will be removed by the BD immediately. The timeframe for completion of inspection and removal works for other signboards varies in accordance with the circumstances of individual cases. For simple and straightforward cases, the signboards can be removed within a few weeks. For complicated cases, such as those requiring road closure in busy areas of the city and other arrangements that affect the neighbourhood, it will take a longer time, say, several months. The BD will continue to expedite the removal of signboards.

(d) As described in part (b), the BD issues DSRNs to require the removal of dangerous signboards. In emergency situations, irrespective of whether the owners of signboards can be identified or found, the Department will arrange to remove the dangerous signboards immediately and recover the cost from the owners afterwards. For non-emergency cases, the BD will allow 14 days for the signboard owners to comply with the DSRNs. In default of DSRNs, BD will arrange to remove the concerned signboards.

(e) Amid the financial tsunami and economic downturn, the Government is actively considering measures in a multi-pronged manner to create employment opportunities. Building maintenance and signboard related works are two of the areas being explored. We are formulating and will announce them in due course.

Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:31

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