Manchester City Council has announced that chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein will retire from his role with the organisation in Spring 2017.
Sir Howard, who joined the council as a junior clerk in 1971, has been in the top job since 1998.
He has played a central role in the regeneration and economic growth of the city, including serving from 1996-99 as the chief executive of Manchester Millennium Ltd which oversaw the transformation of the city centre in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bombing.
Since then the city has experienced unprecedented growth and investment including flagship developments such as Spinningfields, NOMA, First Street, Corridor Manchester and forthcoming investments in St John’s, Airport City, the Northern Gateway and HS2.
He was also instrumental in securing Manchester’s hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games – then the largest multi-sports event ever hosted in the UK – and the catalyst to the regeneration of East Manchester. He was also influential in the unparalleled investment in sport and leisure facilities focused around the Etihad Campus, and the introduction and expansion of the Metrolink tram network.
Knighted in 2003 for his services to the city, Sir Howard said: “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. I’m incredibly proud of what the city has been able to achieve in this time and to have played a part in it.
“I will have been at the Council 46 years next year and this feels like the right time to plan for my succession. There is still considerable work to do in the months ahead and my focus on it will not be diminished.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Sir Howard is widely recognised as one of the great local government chief executives.
“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.
“Our new chief executive will need to be someone with the strategic vision, innovative ideas, partnership working skills and gravitas to help lead Manchester forwards into an exciting new phase”.
A special meeting of the Council’s Personnel Committee will be convened shortly to begin the process of recruiting the next chief executive.