No financial support for New Ferry blast victims, government says
The government will not provide funds to help people affected by an explosion in Merseyside, officials have said.
Two people were seriously hurt, 31 injured and many buildings destroyed in the blast in New Ferry, Wirral.
The cost of recovering from an incident of this "size and impact" should be covered by "local resources", the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse said in a letter to Wirral Council.
The decision is "heartless," leader of the council Phil Davies said.
Jake Berry said in the letter that the explosion did not meet the government's threshold for providing financial support for emergency response costs.
"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", he said.
Mr Davies said the government "has turned its back on the people of New Ferry" but that the council will "renew calls" to ministers to meet their responsibilities.
Wirral council has so far spent £300,000 on the recovery effort, he said.
Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South, who earlier called for the government's help, said it was "hugely disappointing".
"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", she said.
Labour councillor Warren Ward said after waiting "18 weeks for any real government response" he was "almost speechless" to receive this letter, which he said is "a direct kick in the teeth for all these residents affected."