Workers shattered as double blow hits more than 370 jobs

St Helens Star: Facing the axe: Red Bank in Newton-le-Willows Facing the axe: Red Bank in Newton-le-Willows

HUNDREDS of workers are reeling from devastating news of job losses at two of the borough’s major employers.

Employees at the St Helens Council managed Red Bank community children’s home in Newton-le-Willows learned on Tuesday it faces closure, with the loss of 156 jobs.

On the same day shift workers at Crane Building Services & Utilities, on Delta Road, Parr were huddled into a canteen to be told it is moving out of St Helens by the end of March 2015. Up to 216 jobs will go.

Staff at the company which supplies gas distribution fittings, pipeline equipment were said to be in tears.

The loss of more than 370 jobs for the borough will be seen as a bitter blow, particularly as hopes of an economic recovery have been heightened by talk of growth forecasts. Statistics suggest unemployment is falling in St Helens, with the number of people claiming jobseekers’ allowance dropping by 1,000 in a year to 4,300 in January.

There has been brighter news of regeneration schemes gathering progress, while the Government St Helens Jobs and Growth fund now supplying grants to ambitious companies who want to expand their workforces.

But with workers at Pilkington’s Cowley Hill already anxiously waiting news on where the axe will fall after 140 losses were announced last year, the latest body blow will tear more well paid jobs out of the town, reducing the spending power of people in communities.

St Helens Council says it will fight the closure of Red Bank, which it blames on contracts from the Youth Justice Board being sent elsewhere.

The YJB has challenged this, however, insisting the closure is a decision for council managers.

The council has shed more than 1,300 posts over the last three years. A council commissioned report into local shopping centres and shop closures suggests the job losses has had the potential to strip £32m from the local economy.

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