COMMUNITY CLUB BLOCK BOOK BADMINTON COURTS EVERY WEEK FOR THEIR OWN PEOPLE?
Me and my friends are recreational badminton players in the Serangoon area. We would occasionally book the badminton courts at the Marine Parade Town Council (Serangoon office) and the Braddell Heights Community Club (CC). The Town Council is particularly popular – in order to book to use the badminton court during the week which is one on a first-come-first-serve basis, we need to queue from as early as 4.30am on the Monday of the same week.
On one occasion, we managed to book to use the courts at the Town Council on a Saturday night. We were approached by members of another badminton group using the opposite court. They claimed that they were the “oldest badminton group” in Singapore and that they had been playing regularly at the said Town Council “for 10 over years”. They also told us that they would book to use the Town Council badminton courts at night on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and suggested that we should stop competing with them to book and use the Town Council badmintons courts during these period.
We recently found out that the said badminton group was planning to use their members’ “connections” to block-book the badminton courts so as to avoid queuing to secure their favourite time slots to play badminton at the Town Council. We know that some of their members were in the badminton interest group under the Braddell Heights CC, and that they intended to use their connections with the administrative staff of the CC and the Town Council to either block-block or secure priority booking of the badminton courts in the Town Council and the CC.
We have gone down to the Town Council last weekend to verify and indeed both badminton courts have been block-booked for every Thursdays and Saturdays, from 6pm to 10 pm with effect from 18 Apr 2013 and until further notice.
On questioning the Town Council office staff, they told us that they would just accept booking instructions from the CC because the “the CC owns the courts and the Town Council only helps to administer the booking”. They also said that the above mentioned bookings were directed by Ms Grace Cheng from the Braddell Heights CC. We went to Braddell Heights CC office to seek clarification from Grace Cheng. She was not on duty but her colleagues confirmed that the bookings was approved by her for the badminton players from the Braddell Heights CC.
We would like to seek the relevant authorities’ comments and response on the following:
a. What are the guidelines and approval process for advance/block-bookings for the badminton courts at the Town Council and CC to be used by a select group of users like the CC players? Is there any abuse by the staff of the CC and Town Council to unduly benefit this small group of users?
b. Even if the existing guidelines and approval process have been followed, they have clearly led to undue preferential treatment for the select group of users, according them excessive rights to use, not one but both, badminton courts, and furthermore during peak hours and on a permanent basis! This is preposterous and has disadvantaged other users like us who are tax-payers. We request to be given open access and fair chance to book the badminton courts like any other public amenities.
c. While we disagree that the CC players should be given priority to use any court during peak hours in the first place, we would also like to know WHETHER AND HOW DOES the CC ensure that the badminton courts booked for the CC players are used only by them? We are aware that the majority of the members of the aforementioned “oldest” badminton group are not CC players but they will actually be using the beneficiary of the CC’s initiative to block-book the Town Council courts.
d. We have good reasons to believe that the staff/volunteers of the CC have misused their positions to benefit a select group of residents on the presumption that they represent the CC in badminton competitions. There is a significantly larger group of residents and users who also play badminton for recreation and, as tax-payers, we should all be given fair chance to book and use publicly available sport facilities. In this regard, we request the CC and Town Council to be transparent and provide more information on this matter pertaining to the allocation of usage rights in respect of all the badminton courts under their respective charge.
e. In the interim period before this matter is resolved, please suspend all advance/block-bookings of badminton courts by the Braddell Heights CC.
I look forward to your reply.
Marine Parade Resident