The loss of Brighton and Hove’s top policeman because of funding cuts would be a “tragedy” for the city, a council boss has warned.

City commander Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett is among 53 officers who would leave Sussex Police in the next year if the force renews powers to enforce retirement after 30 years’ service.

In the past 12 months 55 officers have been forced to retire under Regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations, which is being used to reduce officer numbers in Sussex as part of a £52 million budget-cutting plan.

Ch Supt Bartlett, who has led policing in the city since January 2009, is one of the highest-profile figures to face the axe.

He is due to complete 30 years’ service in March.

Other officers in the firing line this year include PC Sean McDonald, who acts as a liaison between police and protest groups, and Detective Chief Inspector Trevor Bowles, who until last year led murder inquiries as part of the force’s major crime branch.

Last year the force began a four-year cuts plan involving the loss of 500 officers and 550 staff.

Sussex Police Authority has said it hopes powers will become available this year to allow “voluntary severance” for officers who want to leave, instead of simply retiring every officer who reaches 30 years’ service.

In May it is to vote on whether to renew the A19 powers at its annual meeting.

Peter Jones, the Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council and an election hopeful for the post of police and crime commissioner for Sussex, said Ch Supt Bartlett and other experienced officers should be able to stay.

He said: “I think it would be a tragedy to lose him at this stage.

“He really has the trust and confidence of people in Brighton.”

Best-selling Brighton crime novelist Peter James, who works closely with Sussex Police for his research, has spoken publicly against A19, saying senior officers represent years of investment and irreplaceable experience.