Local and national government response to the explosion
The opinion of the community has always been that whilst both national and local government continued to state that they helped as much as they could and should, neither of them did.
National government first stated they would help, then withdrew any offer of assistance with the reasoning that the incident "was not of the size that warrants government assistance".
Government have stated that their provision of the Homes England regeneration project is adequate assistance.
However we see this investment as nothing more than a means by which to achieve "new-build" housing targets. We do not see this as any assistance from government for the recovery of the area or the community following the devastating explosion.
This government response came as a massive insult to the victims of the New Ferry Port Sunlight explosion, particularly given that:
£7m was given by government to the town of Salisbury following the poisonings, for which over £2m was specifically designated for traders who were forced to stay closed for 2 weeks
£2m was given by government in compensation to the city of Belfast following the fire in Primark.
Government have continued to this day to state that any further assistance required by the victims and the community is required only as a result of failings of the local council, such as Wirral Borough Council never applying for the Bellwin Scheme, thereby throwing the bouncy-ball of blame back to Wirral Borough Council.
Whether or not this is true, national government's decision to give compensation only to already-wealthy areas and to those areas which are politically useful for them, and to neglect poorer areas which are in significantly greater need, is utterly shameful.
Wirral Borough Council's obligation under the Civil Contingencies Act, 2004, was to adequately prepare for and manage emergency situations, and they had an emergency fund of £770,000 with which to fund emergency response and recovery.
The explosion was of the size and scale that it required a multi-agency approach to cope with the immediate incident. Not only did that include WBC as the governing authority in charge of emergency management, but it also included the fire service, the ambulance service, the police, the health service, and victim support.
Phil Davies, the then leader of WBC, has stated in many press releases since the explosion that the council had always supported the community. Statements often read "Wirral Borough Council have already supported the community by spending over £300,000" or similar. This was also the standard reply to any media questions when asked for responses to the anguish expressed by the victims and community that they were left to fend for themselves. Council statements, including those from Phil Davies, always stated that the cause of anguish within the community was the lack of national government support, thereby throwing back the bouncy-ball of blame back to national government.
The victims and community have always known that they were not adequately supported and were therefore angered by these perpetual statements from WBC. Every time such statements were made, the victims of the disaster were riding the bouncy-ball back and forth in a state of unabated stress.
Now new evidence has been acquired that proves undeniably that the victims of the explosion did not receive adequate assistance from WBC, and that evidence was presented to them directly in a 36-page report on 17th June 2019 by the Justice for New Ferry group.
Please see our Justice for New Ferry page for further details, or click this link to see the report in full on our site here
The following report is based upon the same 36 page report that was given to all council cabinet members on 17th June 2019.
The report was also sent to every single elected councillor in Wirral. It was also sent to James Brokenshire and Jake Berry in national government.
It details all of the failings (known at the time of writing) of Wirral Borough Council in the management of the emergency such that the victims received no help at all, other than to provide temporary emergency shelter for some of those made homeless.
Wirral Borough Council’s Response to the New Ferry Port Sunlight Explosion
Report written by Marion Grundy Ridewood, 17/06/19, revised 18/07/19
Please feel free to download and read the report by clicking on the PDF icon