THE next phase of New Ferry's recovery is underway as contractors reduce a cordon around the worst-affected properties and restore access past the blast site.

Only the most badly-damaged properties on Bebington Road remain cordoned off, meaning that direct through access for pedestrians – which has not been possible since the blast on March 25 – can be restored.

Repairs have also taken place in Boundary Road, meaning traffic is now running through this part of New Ferry and Port Sunlight for the first time since the blast happened.

Contractors are now able to work safely behind the hoarding to either repair or remove the properties as appropriate.

Repair works on other damaged properties close to the blast site are also taking place under the instructions of insurers.

David Ball, who is leading the council's recovery team, said: "We have now completed all the emergency works that have been necessary in such complex circumstances and we are pleased to be able to restore full access for residents, shoppers and motorists.

"New Ferry has remained open for business throughout the recovery phase but we know that the closure of the road and restrictions on pedestrian access, which was unavoidable, has impacted on footfall and trade.

"I hope circumstances will now improve and I urge everyone to support their local businesses.

"We are continuing to meet regularly with New Ferry residents and businesses to update them on progress of the recovery operation and once again I pay tribute to their patience and resilience through these difficult times".