Why has Wirral Council agreed to write to the government asking for money and for the government to meet people affected by the New Ferry explosion?

Why has Wirral Council agreed to write to the government asking for money and for the government to meet people affected by the New Ferry explosion?

Wallasey Town Hall (public gallery) Wirral Council 10th July 2017

Why has Wirral Council agreed to write to the government asking for money and for the government to meet people affected by the New Ferry explosion?


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Council (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017 Part 8 of 17 (Support for New Ferry)

Usually the press outnumber the public in the public gallery above the Council Chamber at Wallasey Town Hall.

Wallasey Town Hall (public gallery) Wirral Council 10th July 2017
Wallasey Town Hall (public gallery) Wirral Council 10th July 2017

Monday evening’s meeting of Wirral Council’s councillors was different as many people (see photo above) with connections to New Ferry had turned up to listen to the debate on the notice of motion about New Ferry following the explosion earlier this year.

After around two hours of waiting, councillors rearranged the agenda so that the Support for New Ferry motion was heard first (rather than fourth). This motion was proposed by Cllr Warren Ward and seconded by Cllr Phil Davies.

A large explosion in New Ferry happened on Saturday 25 March. Many buildings in the area had to be evacuated because of structural damage (these were buildings used for both residential and business purposes), roads were closed and at least one person injured ended up in hospital. Cllr Warren Ward’s notice of motion asked for Wirral Council to write to the national government to intervene and to help.

Councillor Phil Davies (Leader) estimated that Wirral Council’s costs so far in dealing with the aftermath as around £300,000.

Cllr Warren Ward (Bromborough) criticised the government for sending a minister to visit the area some time after it happened.

He singled out a government minister for further criticism, stating that the minister had said in a local radio interview that the government had been supporting Wirral Council since day one of the explosion. Cllr Ward described this as a “kick in the teeth to all those residents affected crying out for government support only to receive nothing”.

Councillor Warren Ward thanked the “phenomenal emergency services”, “[Wirral] Council officers” and “community members”. He referred to the community members as “picking up the burden”.

He explained that Wirral Council employees had been working “15 hour days” at a cost of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” asking, “why isn’t the government playing its role in supporting the residents affected by the New Ferry disaster?”

At the end of his speech he received nearly thirty seconds of applause and a standing ovation.

Cllr Adam Sykes (Clatterbridge) moving an amendment to Cllr Warren Ward’s notice of motion started by thanking the members of public in the gallery for waiting “a long time”.

He described meetings of residents he had attended and the impact and distress the disaster had had on them. Cllr Sykes described people who had lost everything and how others had no insurance and how people were “looking for answers”.

His speech covered the cause of the blast and resident’s fears that it could happen again. Wirral Council employees were once again thanked and the community for their “hard work”. Describing Cllr Warren Ward as an “outstanding example of a councillor in our Council for all his tireless work ”, he explained that the amendment wasn’t to take anything away but sought to support by “exploring other options”.

Cllr Sykes explained that in the short-term Wirral Council should use its own funds held in reserves for emergencies and to explore financial assistance under the Bellwin Scheme as he was not sure whether that had been done yet.

He agreed that Wirral Council should work with the government to “resolve this situation” and said he had spoken to the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP (Minister for Communities and Local Government) on a number of occasions and that the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP was clear that the government “wished to help” to discuss a plan with Wirral Council officers.

During the general election (when Cllr Sykes was the Conservative candidate hoping to be MP for Wirral South after the general election in June) he said that he hadn’t wanted to bring the Rt Hon Sajid Javid to the blast site, as it would appear that Cllr Sykes was after a “photo opportunity”.

He was at this point heckled by the public gallery.

Cllr Sykes said he had told Cllr Warren Ward that he didn’t want to make the issue a “political football”, he repeated his request for Wirral Council to provide a plan to the government. Referring to a visit by the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse on the 6th of July 2017, he said that the Minister had asked during that visit for the plan to be submitted so “things could move forward”. The councillor continued by saying that it was the responsibility of “all of us” (referring to both Wirral Council and the government) “to look after our neighbours when they”re in need”. He said it was about “basic compassion and shouldn’t stop at [political] party boundaries” and that he wished to work with all Wirral Council councillors and the community to help the people of New Ferry.

He was further heckled by the public gallery.

Cllr Irene Williams (Bromborough) thanked the Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram for a contribution by the LCRCA of £20,000. She thanked Wirral Council employees and people in the community who she described as “working tirelessly”, she said that New Ferry was in need of “emergency funding”. Cllr Williams said that the government had indicated it couldn’t help because of the general election (which had now been over for a month) and referred to residents being “traumatised”. She described some residents as suffering flashbacks, how businesses will close and how some buildings would have to be demolished.

Cllr Williams described New Ferry as “struggling before the explosion” and asked for a “fair share of help from governnment”. She received applause for her speech.

Other speakers in the debate were Cllr Ian Lewis (Wallasey), Cllr Ron Abbey (Leasowe and Moreton East), Cllr Dave Mitchell (Eastham), Cllr Chris Blakeley (Moreton West and Saughall Massie), Cllr Jerry Williams (Bebington), Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Upton & Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport), Cllr Chris Carubia (Eastham), Cllr Tracey Pilgrim (Clatterbridge), Cllr Phil Davies (Birkenhead and Tranmere & Leader) and finally again Cllr Warren Ward (Bromborough).

The vote on the Conservative amendment was lost (24:36:1 (for:against:abstain)).

The vote on the original Labour motion was passed (60:0:1 (for:against:abstain)).

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

6 thoughts on “Why has Wirral Council agreed to write to the government asking for money and for the government to meet people affected by the New Ferry explosion?”

  1. Sorry I’ve said this before and i say it again, this is up to insurance compaines to deal with, they have no right asking for tax payers money to rebiuld etc, if some of the people had no inusrance well that’s is tough, if i remember right, didn’t a couple of guys leave the gas on with a candle burning so they could claim the insurance, but it took more out than they thought,
    Wirral council is using this as excuse to rebuild a run down area that they let run down in the first place!

    1. Three men were arrested after the explosion.

      Merseyside Police then released them all.

      In July, one of the men, Mr Johnson, Merseyside Police stated that it is no longer investigating him and no further action will be taken.

      I’m not sure what’s happened over the intervening two months though about the other two though.

  2. Hear, Hear Keef666 – very wise words.

    I imagine this advice about insurance money will form part of the Tory government’s justified and characteristically niggardly response.

    Warren Ward, backer of Owen Smith, the least said about that the better, and his predecessors, aided and abetted by Alison wotsername, the MP for Wirral South and Chair of something ironically entitled “Progress”, have allowed New Ferry to go to rack and ruin, while they’ve personally prospered and drank deep from the trough of plenty labelled “Public Money Salaries, Allowances and Expenses”.

    That naive mob in the public gallery who are never engaged in politics until it affects them need to wise up and get their brains into gear, before Warren Ward leads them all up the garden path, realises he has no further use for them, then dumps them as hollowed out husks on the side of the road before he gets back on track with carving out his career.

    Before you label me a cynic John, there are two distinct types.

    The active cynic: Innocent people get harmed or perish as a result of their deceitful attitude, conduct and actions.

    The passive cynic: Innocent people get alerted about the dangers of being too naive, but they never, ever get harmed.

    Like you, and Keef666, I deal in truth and I’m one of the latter.

    1. I’m sure there will be plenty of uninsured properties in the area that was damaged by the explosion.

      The name of the Wirral South MP you’re looking for is Alison McGovern.

      I think you’ve already self-labelled yourself a cynic Paul so there’s no need for me to!

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