Two seemingly unrelated issues that came up in Parliament recently nevertheless highlighted the indispensable role played by town councils in the everyday lives of Singaporeans. One was the issue of pigeon-feeding, and the other was the use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) at void decks. The National Parks Board conducts surveillance at pigeon-feeding hot spots and partners with the National Environment Agency and town councils to educate residents about environmental health and hygiene concerns. The tempo of deterrent action has been accelerated in a pilot programme carried out in Yio Chu Kang that may be rolled out to the rest of Singapore. Under the programme, cameras are used to nab residents found feeding pigeons. Images of offenders are put up around the neighbourhood to deter such behaviour and generate community awareness.
As for PMDs, town councils possess the flexibility of deciding whether to ban PMDs at void decks - including lift lobbies and mailbox areas - given the differing configuration of void decks at different places. They can impose a ban under by-laws, a power that highlights their direct link to the immediate concerns of communities. Given the complaints and the dangers residents face from errant PMD users, it is reassuring to learn that town councils can invoke the force of the law against users at void decks, in addition to the Active Mobility Act, which is nationally applicable and covers the use of PMDs and bicycles in locations such as footpaths.