A candidate has dropped out of the running to become the chief of Brighton and Hove City Council.

Brighton and Hove City Council was to interview four women for its role of chief executive over the next two days.

However, before interviews today and tomorrow, The Argus understands one of the candidates – Nicola Yates, the former chief executive of Hull City Council – has withdrawn from the running for the £150,000 job.

It comes as council leader Jason Kitcat criticised the leaking of names on the shortlist, which appeared in The Argus last week, and called for all parties to work together in the best interest of the city.

Coun Kitcat said: “Leaking sensitive information such as this seeks to undermine the process agreed by the whole council in its constitution and the laws regulating local government.

“We have to accept political differences exist but also agree to be bound by the democratic processes of our council.

“I call on residents to help politicians change the political culture in the city – challenge us when we slip backwards and demand productive cross-party relations from all parties.”

Today candidates will be interviewed by stakeholders, such as voluntary groups, trade union representatives and business leaders.

Tomorrow they will grilled by the cross-party panel of councillors, made up of three Green members, two Conservative and one Labour.

A decision and announcement of the preferred candidate is expected to be taken tomorrow. It must be approved at a meeting of full council later this month.

The shortlist was a matter on controversy with the three opposition councillors on the panel favouring the shortlisting of current Lewes District Council chief executive Jenny Rowlands.

However, this was ruled out by the council leader’s casting vote and Ms Yates was included instead.

Coun Kitcat admitted he had “made a mistake” in admitting publicly he had not signed off a council statement which said the candidates had “been agreed” by the panel. It has since been proved he did.

Coun Kitcat said: “Bearing in mind that I sign off many statements every day, it’s actually an easy enough mistake to make, and as soon as I realised the error, I corrected it.

“Let’s be clear that the council statement was correct, it doesn’t suggest unanimity, just that the shortlist was agreed in line with the standard process for the council’s panels and committees.

“To say that a committee or panel ‘agreed’ something is perfectly normal practice, and I’m not aware of an opposition leader ever questioning this type of wording before, it’s just the usual democratic process.

“We need to accept these processes and focus on the best interests of the city.

“Let’s not be distracted from the fact that someone sought to undermine a clear, fair and proper process to recruit a key role for the city.”

The candidates

Penelope Thompson, former chief executive of Hackney Borough Council and current CEO of General Social Care Council

Gill Steward, corporate director for communities, Cornwall County Council

Lyn Carpenter, bi-borough executive director for environment, leisure and residents’ services, Hammersmith & Fulham and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea