An MP has criticised the government's response to the devastating New Ferry blast, saying it is “not good enough”.
Alison McGovern is “disappointed” by the decision to offer no funding to the businesses and residents affected by the suspected gas explosion in March, which left 33 people injured and destroyed buildings in the town centre.
Wirral councillors had written to the government asking for financial help, but Jake Berry MP – minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth – has written back to Wirral Council saying none will be forthcoming due to the “size and impact” of the New Ferry incident.
Wirral South MP Ms McGovern said: “It is hugely disappointing that even after government ministers have visited New Ferry for themselves and seen the scale of the devastation, they are still not prepared to help us fund the rebuilding work that is so badly needed.
“People in New Ferry will be feeling totally let down that after being strung along with months of warm words from government ministers, they have not been prepared to back it up with action. It’s not good enough and I will keep fighting for the funding we deserve.”
The letter from Mr Berry reds: “The Government rarely intervenes during the recovery phase of an emergency; and has only done so to-date when the scale and impact of the emergency is so great that it becomes a national incident.
”Recent examples of this were the extensive flooding in parts of northern England during winter 2015/16, and last month’s fire at Grenfell Tower.
“While I understand that recovering from the New Ferry explosion requires funding, for an incident of this size and impact we would expect these costs to be covered using existing local resources.”
Mr Berry adds: “I applaud the resolve of your council, local businesses, and the community, to regenerate the New Ferry area.
“I look forward to receiving your Community Regeneration Plan later this month and am happy to confirm that both I and my officials will work with you to build a deliverable plan for the residents and businesses of New Ferry.”
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the buildings most severely damaged by the explosion will be demolished shortly following a court order.
Birkenhead magistrates granted a council order to bring down properties from 56 to 66 Bebington Road due to the severity of the damage.
Owners of the affected properties have until August 3 to appeal the decision. If no appeals are made, contractors will be instructed to move on to the site and begin the demolition. The damaged buildings have been behind a secured cordon since the explosion, on March 25.
The costs of the demolition work will be met by property owners or their insurance companies.
A long-term regeneration plan for the town is “progressing”, Wirral Council said in a statement issued earlier this week.
See full story in the Chester Leader