THERE were celebrations and recriminations when a popular pub welcomed back customers after it was forced to close due to being nearly destroyed by an explosion.

The Cleveland Arms was very close to the blast in March in which more than 30 people were injured and several buildings damaged.

Wirral Council has spent more than £300,000 to help with the recovery – but there is strong feeling in New Ferry that the UK government could and should have done more in the wake of the explosion.

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern said: “Since the explosion in New Ferry there has been no support from the government. There has been a visit by Tory Minister Jake Berry to the area and there has been contact with the government however nothing of any help has come of it.

“The government have failed New Ferry. Since the explosion happened I have stood in Parliament asking the government for help. I have been joined by the Leader of the Council Phil Davies, New Ferry’s councillors and Council Officer David Ball in asking the government for help. Meanwhile, Wirral Borough Council have spent in excess of £300,000 to help with the recovery operation. People have lost their homes and businesses and the impact on New Ferry has been catastrophic.

“The community spirit has been wonderful and I know people have tried their best to help each other but New Ferry needs the government’s assistance. People are understandably very angry about the lack of assistance. I welcomed a recent visit by the Archbishop of York to New Ferry and appreciated his support. It meant a lot to have someone of such significance taking an interest in the plight of our community. Currently there are consultations happening for the regeneration of New Ferry as demolition work continues. It’s been a challenging time for New Ferry and I have seen first-hand that the council here has done its best to support people. I won’t stop highlighting the need for government assistance for New Ferry and I won’t let the Tories forgot about our town.”

Manager Ann Grimes has worked tirelessly for six months to re-open the Bebington Road pub on Friday evening.

On Facebook, she thanked everyone for their support, saying: “Thank youfor your support for making the opening night so superb. Lovely to see so many of my regulars of which I love dearly and many new faces who hopefully will return due to the fab atmosphere.

“I have missed you everyone and I think we pulled it off - bigger and better.”

Christopher Locke, who performed on the evening and is the organiser of the Glastonferry festival in Eastham, praised the efforts of Ann and her team – but echoed the feeling that more help should have been forthcoming from the government.

He said: “They have worked really hard without any government help to refurb it after serious damage - they were very close to the explosion. We were there just to offer support and help make the reopening event a success. I also performed a song I have written about the explosion and Theresa May failing to help after promising she would. It's based on rapper's delight/good times and is a bit of a laugh and went down well.

“It's lucky there are people like Ann Grimes in New Ferry who take the explosion and lack of government help on the chin and refuse to give in - fighting back and getting their business back up and running.

“Others are even worse affected than Ann as buildings have been condemned and are being demolished - the lack of government help is shameful.”