The Legislative Council Public Works Subcommittee agreed on Wednesday to support a plan to turn the former Fanling Magistrates’ Court into a centre for The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG). It is also approved a proposal to turn the Bridges Street Market into a news media exhibition centre.
The motion on the Fanling court building was passed with 12 voting for, three voting against, and one abstaining. It will be passed to the Finance Committee for further deliberation. The project is expected to cost HK$111.6m.
During the meeting, Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats proposed to end the discussion of the motion, but this did not pass. Cyd Ho Sau-lan of the Labour Party questioned whether the Audit Commission would have authority to review the revitalisation scheme, and expressed her concern that the facility would end up as a three-star hotel for Individual Visit Scheme tourists, like Youth Square in Chai Wan, RTHK reported.
Legislative Councillor Albert Chan Wai-yip said that the HKFYG earned a lot of money every year and that young adults from working families could hardly afford their development programmes, as many of them had been expensive, Oriental Daily reported. A HKFYG spokesperson said that the organisation needed to be prepared for changes in the economy and emphasised that their objective had always been to develop young adults.
The issue of opening hours was also discussed, and many councillors said that the centre should be open on Saturdays. The Development Bureau’s Commissioner for Heritage Jose Yam thus amended the opening hours so that the centre would be open seven days a week, from 10 am to 6 pm. He said that after the revitalisation, the HKFYG would have to sign a tenancy agreement, which would clearly state the model and duration of operation, as well as the terms of service such as the opening hours and facilities available. He also said that the Audit Commission had already given their opinion on the project and that they would be able to carry out reviews.
The subcommittee also discussed the proposal to turn the Bridges Street Market into Hong Kong News-Expo, an exhibition centre for news media. The applicant of the HK$85.3m project is Journalism Education Foundation Hong Kong Limited. However, slope maintenance works will first have to be carried out in the area, which will be overseen by the Highways Department.
Many were in support of the project. Kwok Ka-ki of the Civic Party said that the centre could serve as a reminder of the importance of press freedom.
The centre is expected to be open to the public six days a week and admission will be free. Retired and veteran journalists will provide guided tours, which will run for seven sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.