POLITICS

Steve Rotheram: New Ferry Gas Blast Has Become A Forgotten Disaster

Liverpool mayor says government has turned its back on victims.

26/07/2017 15:39 | Updated 27 July 2017
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

Victims of a gas blast which destroyed dozens of homes and businesses have been “completely forgotten” by the government, according Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram.

Residents in New Ferry ,Wirral, were woken on March 25 by a huge explosion which left 33 people injured - two of them seriously - reduced several buildings to rubble and left homes uninhabitable.

Many have been unable to return to even collect their possessions because their houses have been deemed too unsafe to enter - but the government this week told Merseyside council chiefs they will not be offered any central financial help to rebuild the area. 

Local residents have so far raised £20,000 alone by setting up their own charity, New Beginnings.  Their total has been match-funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, headed by mayor and former Walton MP Steve Rotheram.

PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images

 “The government has completely turned its back on this area and its residents,” he told HuffPost UK.

“We’ve been told the situation does not meet some arbitrary threshold in terms of receiving financial assistance from the government and it’s clearly a case of the system controlling what happens rather than the right outcome being facilitated. 

“We have genuinely got a ‘Computer Says No’ situation going on, and it is unacceptable.  

“New Beginnings have managed to raise £20,000, which was have matched.  If the government put in the same amount, it won’t be anywhere near enough to mitigate the huge damage the area has seen, but it would at least be a token gesture to show that they are not disregarding what has happened completely. 

“This has become a forgotten disaster - and we do not use the term disaster lightly in this area.”

HuffPost UK

Communities and local government minister Jake Berry visited the area earlier this month to survey the damage and meet community leaders.  He promised a prompt response to the concerns raised when questioned about the trip by Wirral South MP Alison McGovern.

Mr Rotheram, who will write to Theresa May about the matter this week, added: “It’s almost forgivable to not realise the full impact of what has happened here unless you visit, so for Jake Berry to have seen it for himself and the government to have still come to this decision is unbelievable. 

“There are people who have not been able to return to their homes four months on, and won’t even be able to get back in to collect their possessions before the buildings are demolished and there are businesses who can’t use their premises any more.

“Lives and livelihoods have been destroyed and the government is doing nothing to help.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it would be a different story if that had happened somewhere in London.

“But if they think the people impacted by this are going to go away just because they are a few hundred miles away, I can assure them that’s not the case.”

The department for communities and local government has been asked for a comment.

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