Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein is to retire next spring after almost 20 years in the role.
Sir Howard joined Manchester as a junior clerk in 1971, and rose to chief executive in 1998.
He 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.
“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 live here has the opportunity to share in, and contribute to, its growing success.”
Sir Howard said the city’s agreed strategy would take it up to 2025 and “by definition this is a long-term strategy. I will have been at the council 46 years next year and this feels like the right time to plan for my succession”.
Leader Sir Richard Leese (Lab) 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.
Sir Howard played a central role in the city’s regeneration and economic growth, including serving from 1996-99 as the chief executive of Manchester Millennium, which oversaw the transformation of the city centre in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bomb.
He was also instrumental in securing Manchester’s hosting of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, played a leading role in the introduction and expansion of the Metrolink tram network and helped to create the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011.
Sir Richard said Manchester’s personnel committee would soon start the process of recruiting a new chief executive, who would have to be “someone with the strategic vision, innovative ideas, partnership working skills and gravitas to help lead Manchester forwards into an exciting new phase”.
Treasury commercial secretary Jim O’Neill said in tribute to Sir Howard: “As a fellow Mancunian, I have seen first-hand the impact of Sir Howard’s sheer dedication to make Manchester the leading city it is today.
“Thanks to his efforts Greater Manchester has been the trailblazer in government plans to devolve power and money back to local people who know their area best.
“He was also a relentless supporter of our efforts to rebalance the economy and build a Northern Powerhouse – and his good work has helped create a dynamic, modern city that is the envy of others both across the country and beyond.”