A FUNDRAISING campaign in aid of residents and businesses affected by the New Ferry gas explosion has been boosted by a donation of £5,000 from Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

The money was handed over to community group New Ferry Town Team as the clean-up operation continues following the explosion on March 25.

Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce said she hoped the donation would show the businesses community is united, compassionate and committed to supporting the local area.

She added: "Like everyone, I was taken aback at the scale of the devastation caused by this explosion.

"It was clear from day one that the people of New Ferry were pulling together and Wirral Chamber wanted to show its solidarity with local businesses and the community.

"I'm glad that we are in a position to provide a small donation, which will begin to help those affected.

"I have also written to our members, who have responded with offers of support, expertise and of course, financial donations".

At its fundraising launch, The New Ferry Town Team set out an ambition to try and raise £10,000 in 120 days.

This latest donation takes the fundraising total well over this target, following a similar £5,000 donation by Wirral Lions Club two weeks ago.

Cllr Warren Ward, chair of the New Ferry Town Team, said: "I'm very grateful to Wirral Chamber and its members for this donation and the ongoing offers of support for our community.

"The ambition is to continue raising as much as we can so that we can alleviate the burden on those most affected.

"The real work is now starting to rebuild the community.

"Three quarters of shops are now open for business and there is a real sense of community spirit".

Last week residents and business owners were allowed back inside their properties for the first time since the blast on March 25, which injured 34 people.

The most badly-damaged properties around the explosion site remain sealed off to the public.

Yesterday, plans for the government to help rebuild New Ferry were put on hold due to the snap general election.

Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to help rebuild New Ferry and thanked those who worked so hard to support their local community.

National Grid has reported an increase in people calling the gas emergency number and as a result there has been a greater presence of response vehicles in the area.

New Ferry youth club have also provided a drop-in counselling session for young people who have been affected by the blast.

The next community meeting will take place at St Mark's Church Hall in New Ferry on Monday, April 24, at 5.30pm.

A special telephone number has been set up for anyone affected who needs extra support to help cope with the aftermath of the incident such as counselling.

Anyone affected can call 0151 649 1859 between 10am and 4pm.

Working with the New Ferry Town Team, Wirral Council and partners a fund has been established a fund to help ease the burden on businesses who have been unable to trade, have lost stock and are without premises.

This fund will be used to support those in most need, supporting them to recommence trading in their own units or in 'pop-up' premises in New Ferry.

Donations can be made at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lovenewferry

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