William Eichler 15 September 2016

Manchester’s retiring chief executive 'hard act to follow'

Sir Howard Bernstein has announced he is to retire as chief executive of Manchester City Council after many years of public service.

As chief executive, Sir Howard oversaw the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the development of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.

He was also at the forefront of historic devolution agreements which saw the transfer of significant powers and resources, such as all health and social care funding, to Greater Manchester.

Sir Howard, who was knighted in 2003 for his services to the city, joined the council as a junior clerk in 1971 and has been in the top job since 1998.

During the second half of the 1990s, he was instrumental, as the chief executive of Manchester Millennium Ltd, in transforming the city centre in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bombing.

He also played an important role in securing Manchester’s hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games – then the largest multi-sports event ever hosted in the UK.

‘It has been a privilege to serve the city during such a pivotal period, working with many excellent people both within the council and in public and private partner organisations,’ Sir Howard said.

‘I’m incredibly proud of what the city has been able to achieve in this time and to have played a part in it.’

He continued: ‘Manchester is firmly established as a confident and dynamic place, recognised as a premier league world city, although, of course, there are still significant challenges to address to ensure everyone who lives here has the opportunity to share in, and contribute to, its growing success.’

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: ‘Sir Howard is widely recognised as one of the great local government chief executives. Having someone of his talent, vision and drive dedicate his career to the city has been an undoubted plus for Manchester.

‘Working with him over many years, addressing challenges and attempting to capture opportunities for the city, has been a pleasure.’

‘He will be a hard act to follow but part of his legacy will be the quality of the team, the strength of relationships and the depth of organisational ambition his successor inherits,’ he added.

A special meeting of the council’s personnel committee will be convened shortly to begin the process of recruiting the next chief executive.

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