A GOVERNMENT minister has been slammed for his 'cold' and 'heartless' response in not providing extra cash for New Ferry.

In September, Wirral South MP Alison McGovern had met with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire to discuss the town's future after the devastating explosion in March 2017 alongside traders and residents.

After the meeting, Ms McGovern penned a letter on September 13 to Mr Brokenshire to plead for more financial assistance in rebuilding the town.

Mr Brokenshire replied more than two months later on Wednesday, November 21, citing that 'incidents the size' of New Ferry 'do not normally justify additional Government funding.'

In the letter, he said: "I am pleased that you will be working with local partners and Homes England on the plans to regenerate New Ferry and I appreciate that this work is in the early stages of development.

"It will be important to maintain momentum to ensure that residents and traders can see positive progress being made.

"I understand that Wirral Council is working to attract private sector interest in this scheme alongside the panning activity to ensure that work can start on the ground at the earliest opportunity.

"Homes England will continue to engage with Wirral Council and the consultants undertaking the planning activity as they develop their proposals so that they can explore any available sources of funding that might be able to support the regeneration. I am also pleased that Homes England have also provided £100,000 direct financial support to the master plan process."

Mr Brokenshire followed on to say that Wirral Council did not initially request for any funding from the Government and failed to submit a business case if the cost of recovery was going to have 'significant impact on council resources.'

He continued: "On the points raised around support for Wirral Council to help with the recovery, when the first Recovery Group was convened by the Council after the explosion, the Council did advise that they intended to ask Government for recovery funding.

"Wirral Council were advised to set out the response and recovery costs which could support any request for funding from Government and to submit a business case if the cost of recovery was going to have significant impact on council resources. No such request for Government funding or support was ever submitted.

"Specifically, on the Bellwin scheme you mentioned that Wirral Council were unable to apply for this due to the length of time it took before the council good get access to the explosion site and correctly assess the damage. I understand that when the Council acquired the site from the police it was still within the Bellwin Scheme qualifying period.

"After any major incident careful consideration is given to whether recovery support should be provided by Government. As I advised previously, incidents of this size do not normally justify additional Government funding to support the subsequent recovery costs, a key factor in deciding this is whether the response goes beyond a single Local Authority's ability to cope and thus requiring a national recovery operation. This was not the case in this incident and Wirral Council did have sufficient unallocated reserves at that time could have been made available to support the recovery.

"At the budget, the chancellor announced an ambitious package to help support our high streets and town centres, including a £675 million Future High Streets Fund. Later this year my Department will launch the full prospectus for the Fund, detailing the objectives of the Fund, further detail on the nature of projects that are eligible for funding and assessment criteria. I have asked my officials to make contact with Wirral Council once the prospectus is published as I believe this could be relevant to the proposals to regenerate New Ferry."

Mr Brokenshire then stated that the Government had actually given funding to New Ferry - through a grant given to Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, of which New Ferry is set to receive just £500,000.

He continued: "I also note that the £5 million Town Centres Fund that was announced in the summer by the Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram to support time centres across the city region. This money is, as I am sure you are aware, direct Government grant given to the Mayor in line with the Liverpool City Region devolution deal, and I am pleased that Wirral Council are planning to bid for £500,000 for New Ferry to help support its regeneration plans.

"I can assure you that Government remains committed to the long-term investment into the Liverpool City Region and I will continue to be kept informed as work progresses on the regeneration plans for New Ferry."

Ms McGovern posted the response to her letter on social media which was followed by a backlash from local residents.

She posted: "This is the terrible response from James Brokenshire on funding for New Ferry.

"It took over two months. The Tories *yet again* won't help us.

"I am devastated and angry and I know my constituents will be. We will decide as a community what to do next."

Since the blast there have been numerous calls for the Government to provide more funds for the town and in July 2017, the Government were accused of 'turning its back on the people of New Ferry' after the Government said it would not provide Bellwin financial assistance for 'incidents of the size and impact of New Ferry.'

Bromborough ward councillor Jo Bird told the Globe: "People in New Ferry are doubly devastated – firstly by the huge explosion in March last year, and secondly by an ongoing, heartless response from government.

"The impact of the explosion has not ended. Some families are facing their second Christmas in temporary accommodation. Some local businesses have had to shut up shop.

"Yet on 21 November, James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, sent a letter to Wirral South MP, Alison McGovern.

"He refused to provide financial support for recovery and blamed the local council for not sending enough paperwork to his department. But Minister Jake Berry MP previously wrote to Wirral Council that no help would be provided.

"We see the government showing double standards on disasters – as £7.5m support was provided to Salisbury, and £2m Belfast centre last month. We are appalled with the government’s bureaucratic blame game and their cold, heartless response."