COUNCIL leader Phil Davies has hit back at a Government minister's accusation that the authority was too slow in coming up with a regeneration plan for New Ferry after the devastating explosion in March.

The claim was made in a parliamentary debate in which Wirral South MP Alison McGovern asked Local Government secretary Sajid Javid for an update on progress on calls for Government aid to help those affected by the blast.

Ms McGovern told the minister: "Cash-strapped Wirral Council has found more than £300,000 to deal with the consequences of the New Ferry explosion.

"So far the Government have not done enough.

"Will the secretary of state update me as to their response to the plans to rebuild New Ferry?"

But Mr Javid placed the blame for delays on the local authority: "I am determined to try to help with that disaster and help the council deal with it.

"The council would have helped itself by presenting its business case a lot earlier, and not taking months and months to put it together.

"The council should show better efficiency with the public money it has. For example, it could stop spending £240,000 a year on a local newspaper publication [Wirral View].

"Things like that would help build local confidence."

Labour leader of the council Cllr Phil Davies told the Globe: "For Mr Javid to criticise me and the council after all we have done to help New Ferry is an insult and a bit of a cheek.

"We drew up a regeneration plan for the town very early on and have also put in £300,000 to help the town’s recovery.

"Alison McGovern and the council have done all we can to help since the dreadful events of March 25.

"I've got to find £61m of budget savings next year, so this criticism is insulting and ill-timed.

"After the awful Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government made substantial help, and rightly so."

He added: "But what I'm asking for is similar respect for businesses and residents in New Ferry, who feel like they are living in a forgotten town.

"I want the Government to step up to the plate and offer New Ferry the same help.

"Wirral View is also costing less to put out."

Ms McGovern said: "I am dismayed and angry at the secretary of state's response. I was hoping for some positive developments.

"Ever since the explosion Wirral Council have been working hard to help people who have been affected.

"People in New Ferry don't want to have their town to be dragged in to a blame game and they deserve more than empty answers from ministers.

"All they want is help to regenerate their town following a devastating incident.

"The regeneration plan has been submitted by the council and they are waiting on an initial response from the Government before anything can move forward."