Last month, alongide the leader of Wirral Council, Phil Davies and Alison McGovern MP, Steve Rotheram took the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP, to see the impact of the gas explosion in New Ferry and met local people and businesses affected.
However, despite the City Region Combined Authority’s pledge to commit £20,000 to the emergency relief fund, the government has subsequently refused to provide any financial support to help individuals and businesses experiencing acute hardship. In a letter to Phil Davies, the Minister explains that the quantitative impact of the explosion was simply not big enough to warrant any assistance to those affected.
Expressing his disappointment with the minister’s reply, Steve Rotheram said:
“People in New Ferry feel ignored and abandoned. They believe that this is the forgotten disaster and that their plight is somehow considered to be less important and less worthy of attention than other recent higher profile and larger disasters. The relatively limited geographic scale of this explosion in no way minimises its impact on those affected. People have lost everything through no fault of their own, and in these circumstances, I believe it is the duty of a civilized and compassionate Government to step in and help. This is surely the fundamental moral principle upon which our society and democratic institutions are founded.
“That is why I am urging the Prime Minister to visit New Ferry so she can speak to the local community and personally witness the devastation caused by the gas blast, with the hope of providing some financial support to families and businesses so they can get their lives back on track.”
Wirral Council leader Phil Davies added:
“People in New Ferry have been badly let down. Since the terrible explosion on 25 March turned their lives upside down, where many of them lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods, the council has been working to support them to rebuild their lives.
“Months of warm words, encouraging comments from the Prime Minister and ministerial visits led them to believe the government would join this effort and provide some help. Sadly, these hopes were dashed in a heartless letter confirming no support would be forthcoming.”