Following is a question by the Hon Howard Yeung and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 14):
In recent years, an increasing number of metal cages are put in public places over a prolonged period for collecting used clothes, with banners hung around them appealing to the public to donate used clothes in the name of environmental protection and charity. Some members of the public consider that these metal cages have negative impacts on environmental hygiene and are eyesores, and suspect that they are placed by profit-making businessmen. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
(a) the total number of relevant complaints received by the authorities in the past three years, with a breakdown by their contents and the districts involved;
(b) the number of applications received since January this year by the Lands Department for placing metal cages in public places to collect used clothes, and how the public can tell whether the activities of collecting used clothes have been authorized;
(c) the number of prosecutions instituted against those who placed metal cages in public places to collect used clothes without authorization in the past three years, the charges laid against them and the number of convicted cases; and
(d) the measures to strengthen the regulation of such activities?
My reply to the four-part question is as follows:
(a) The Lands Department received a total of 2 110 complaints in relation to on-street metal cages for collection of used clothes (used clothes collection cages) from 2003 to November 30, 2005. The breakdown of complaints by district is at Schedule 1.
The main reasons for the complaints are as follows:
(A) street obstruction endangering the safety of pedestrians;
(B) adverse impact on the environmental hygiene in the vicinity;
(C) adverse impact on streetscape;
(D) affect the business of the nearby shops; and
(E) abuse of the goodwill of the public.
The complaints, being multiple and diverse, do not lend themselves easily to classification by a reason of single nature. Hence, no breakdown of the complaints by individual reasons is available.
(b) From January to November this year, the Lands Department received a total of 914 applications for placing metal cages on public streets. The breakdown of applications by district is at Schedule 2.
Individual/organization applicants are required, for the purpose of identification, to affix a copy of the authorisation document in a conspicuous position on their used clothes collection cages to be placed on streets.
(c) As the evidence available has yet to be adequate to justify prosecution, the Lands Department did not initiate any prosecution action with regard to metal cages placed on public streets in the past three years. However, in 2005 the Lands Department confiscated 95 unauthorised metal cages in 52 removal operations.
(d) To improve street management, the District Lands Offices will take steps to introduce a plan to regulate the placing of used clothes collection cages. After consultation with other departments and District Councils concerned, designated locations will be allocated for placing such cages. The said arrangement will enable the Department to release more manpower for enforcement and removal operations against unauthorised used clothes collection cages. The communication and cooperation among different Government departments, including the Lands Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Hong Kong Police, the Home Affairs Department, etc., will be enhanced, so that more joint actions will be taken against unauthorised placing of used clothes collection cages on street. It is hoped that by strengthening inter-departmental cooperation, more effective measures could be taken against unauthorised on-street cages to address the obstruction and environmental hygiene problems so caused and reduce the nuisance to the nearby shops.
Ends/Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Issued at HKT 14:03
Schedule 1 & 2