The community in Irlam suffered a blow when a gas explosion destroyed three homes and damaged others early in the morning on 2nd November. A dozen people were injured, one very seriously, and over 200 homes had to be evacuated.
There was a magnificent response from the emergency services, City Council staff, City West, the Tiger Moth Pub and Fiddlers Lane Primary School and neighbours, friends and family members who rushed to help and give people shelter. There has also been great generosity in the donations made by many individuals.
Residents took risks in going into the rubble to pull their neighbours out in real acts of heroism. Coping with the explosion and its aftermath was an enormous exercise for all the agencies and services involved and life was disrupted for the whole estate. I saw staff of the City Council and City West, local councillors, health staff, teachers and governors who all worked long hours to help those who needed it.
I am very aware that these calls on the services of the City Council, police, fire and ambulance and NHS come at a time when they are all facing huge cuts to their budgets from Government.
Over the next four years, the Conservative Liberal Democrat Government is cutting the Budget of the City Council by 28%, with the biggest cuts next year. City West will have to deal with the cuts in Housing Benefit, affecting over 5,000 families in Salford.
Greater Manchester Police will lose a quarter of its staff, including nearly 1,400 police officers. The cuts will fall hardest next year, with the loss of 300 police officers and 750 support staff.
Police numbers do matter in the fight against crime. Under Labour, Greater Manchester Police had an increase of over 1,100 police officers and crime across our area fell by more than one third.
When this disaster struck, our community needed the police, the emergency services and staff of the City Council. The cuts will mean their ability to deal with events like this is greatly reduced and that is a real worry for the future.