'HEARTLESS and callous' are the words Wirral Council leader Phil Davies has branded a senior Government minister after refusing to help New Ferry.

On Thursday, Wirral South MP Alison McGovern received a reply to a letter she had sent to Communities Secretary James Brokenshire more than two months before.

The letter suggested that Wirral Council had never made an initial request to the Government for additional funding after the disaster to which councillor Davies says is 'outrageous and entirely untrue.'

Mr Brokenshire also stated that 'incidents the size' of New Ferry 'do not normally justify additional Government funding.'

However, Cllr Davies has written to Ms McGovern expressing that he was 'furious' at the response from Mr Brokenshire.

In the letter, dated November 22, Cllr Davies said: "I am furious at this response from the Secretary of State, who it seems is either very badly informed or deliberately misinterpreting facts for political reasons.

"This letter wrongly suggests Wirral Council and our elected members had not lobbied the Government for support for New Ferry. This allegation is, quite frankly, outrageous and entirely untrue.

"I think Mr Brokenshire needs a recap of the facts:

"In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, you raised the issue in the House of Commons - asking direct questions of the Prime Minister and then Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP.

"As you will recall, Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, visited the site and I know met with many people who were affected. Once we had assumed control of the site and had an accurate picture of the recovery costs, I personally wrote to Jake Berry MP on July 7, 2017 to ask for funding totalling £500,000 to help residents and businesses.

"The minister responded to my letter on July 17 refusing our request. I quote a section of his letter below: 'While I understand that recovering from the New Ferry explosion requires funding, for an incident of this size and impact we would expect these costs to be covered using existing local resources.'

"Undeterred, we continued to encourage Government to provide support for New Ferry.

"In November 2017 - twelve months ago this week - following public consultation, we developed a regeneration plan for the town, and submitted this to the Secretary of State as requested.

"We subsequently received a response from Sajid Javid MP in December thanking us for the work and assuring us that his Department would work alongside us to make it a reality.

"No such help has ever been forthcoming for New Ferry.

"In the meantime, Government support and funding was quickly mobilised to support communities affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster, following the attack in Salisbury and to support the families and businesses affected by the fire in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

"Learning that the people of Leicester were supported through the Bellwin scheme while we were refused, the people of New Ferry are perhaps right to feel ignored, New Ferry has become the Government's forgotten disaster.

"Contrary to the Secretary of State's false claims, I attach the documents which show this Council, and you as the MP, have consistently lobbied for support at the highest possible levels.

"Earlier this month, I met with local community representatives of New Ferry Town Team and New Beginnings and agreed to work with them to continue to drive regeneration including securing the £500,000 grant from LCR Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram's Town Centre Fund.

"Thank you for your continued efforts and support to secure a fair deal for New Ferry and I hope you will take every opportunity available to put the record straight with the Secretary of State."

Around £400,000 has been spent in the immediate wake of the explosion in a bid to help make the area safe and included helping those who left homeless and those whose businesses were destroyed by the blast.

The council also say that a response is also being awaited to the regeneration scheme requested by the government and submitted to Whitehall a year ago this week.

Cllr Davies told the Globe: “It’s extremely disappointing. The people of New Ferry have been let down again and again by the Government who failed at every opportunity to show they care about real people who have lost homes and businesses through no fault of their own.

“We were told by the Tory minister Jake Berry in July 2017 in a letter that we did not qualify for the Bellwin scheme – so why on earth would we have made a formal application under those circumstances?

“We had more pressing matters to deal with in the aftermath of that explosion than filling out forms the Government had said would be a waste of time anyway.

“This latest letter from James Brokenshire uses mealy-mouthed and weasel words – wrongly implying we have not requested funding through proper channels. In fact, as they well know, that could not be further from the truth. We have repeatedly asked and lobbied Government ministers – and we will continue to press them to fulfil their responsibilities – they will not be let off the hook.

“The Government quite rightly stepped in to help after the appalling fire at Grenfell. The local council there was quite frankly was shamed for its poor response. The Government – as they should in these types of circumstances – stepped in to help them. As they also stepped in to help after the Salisbury poisonings, which had a massive impact on that town.

“Here in Wirral we have done everything we have been asked to do by the Government, done everything exactly by the book and have been left alone to try and pick up the pieces.”

Read Mr Brokenshire's response to Ms McGovern's letter here.

A ministry of housing, communities and local government spokeswoman said: “We take the New Ferry explosion extremely seriously.

"That’s why the Communities Secretary, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, met Alison McGovern MP, local leaders and community members in September to discuss supporting residents and businesses in the regeneration of the area.

"We’re also encouraging Wirral Council to apply for a range of funding streams including the £5m Town Centres Fund– made possible thanks to the Government’s Liverpool City Region Devolution Deal  - and the £675m Future High Streets Fund.

“We have asked Homes England to work with Wirral Council on their regeneration plans for New Ferry and they have already made £100,000 available to support this.

"We will be receiving regular reports on the progress of this work.”