A UNIT for young offenders in Newton faces the axe - with 156 jobs at risk.

Red Bank community home has in the past houses prisoners such as child killers Jon Venables and Mary Bell.

St Helens Council bosses say it is because Youth Justice Board (YJB) intends to move contracts to other parts of the country.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald is vowing to fight the closure and with the loss of so many jobs, he is also calling on the government to intervene.

A time frame for the closure has not been given, however, when the axe falls it will be another significant loss of council jobs for St Helens Council, which has shed more than 1300 positions in recent years.

The council’s chief executive Carole Hudson has written to the Youth Justice Board expressing the council’s concern and to seek information on potential implications for young residents and staff.

Red Bank, which has both secure and open units, provides placements for boys and girls aged between 10 and 17.

It offers full residential care, educational facilities and healthcare provision.