This question was due to be asked of Wirral Borough Council at this evening's full council meeting, but at the last minute, public questions were not permitted. Here is the full question that was to be heard.
The New Ferry Explosion scrutiny report that was published in January 2020 highlighted a multitude of failures by key decision makers and officers within WBC who were responsible for management of the emergency: failures which primarily impacted the health, welfare and financial circumstances of the victims. However, to date there has been no official response to the victims from Wirral Borough Council to the failures highlighted in the scrutiny report, nor any recognition of the recommendations made within it.
In July of 2019, in the full council chamber, Christopher Power, one of the victims of the explosion who was homeless for over two years, asked Cllr Pat Hackett why there had been no declaration of a Major Incident. The council leader promised that this question would be answered upon completion of the scrutiny review.
Given that the purpose of the scrutiny report was to ensure that “lessons would be learned” so that mistakes which negatively impact the victims are never made again, one would have hoped that in the two months since its publication, WBC would have both responded to the scrutiny report and acted promptly in accordance with its recommendations. Furthermore, out of courtesy, one would have hoped that Cllr Pat Hackett would have provided an answer to the question posed by Christopher Power last year.
Likewise, given that we are only 9 days away from the 3rd anniversary of the explosion, one would have expected by now that the area would have changed. However, almost 3 years on, the blast site is no different to how it was left after the bulldozers had finished primary clearance, with bricks still strewn all over. Land ownership legalities have been consistently given by WBC as the reasoning for not removing the detritus of the explosion and leaving it as an exposed scar. However, failure of WBC to redress the blast site is in contradiction to government emergency guidelines regarding the visual impact of disaster sites, as indeed was the decision of WBC to demand money from the uninsured victims, funds which were spent from the allocated emergency budget. To this day, WBC have not rescinded these bills and still insist that their emergency budget deficit be covered by the uninsured victims.
In every sphere of business and within every organisation, there are always consequences for any individual or group who fails to do their duty to protect citizens, especially if it is to the extent that those failures cause increased suffering of citizens. However, in the case of the New Ferry explosion, the lack of response from WBC suggests that there is no accountability and that there will be no consequences for those who failed to do their duty.
Therefore, the communities of New Ferry and Port Sunlight would like to know:
• Why has WBC not rescinded the bills to the uninsured?
• Why Has WBC not given any explanation for the failures highlighted in the scrutiny report?
• Why have the victims not been given any response to the recommendations?
• And why are WBC not prepared to hold those responsible for the failures accountable?
• Lastly, why does WBC refuse to give a public apology for the failures of its procedures, its decision-makers and its officers?
Wirral council officers have said that this question, and other public questions, will now only receive a written response. We wait......