Brighton and Hove City Council’s chief executive said he is quitting after less than three years because of a “truly unique opportunity”.

Yesterday (June 21) The Argus revealed John Barradell was the only candidate being considered for the chief executive post at the City of London Corporation.

Members of the organisation yesterday approved the appointment which means Mr Barradell will leave his current £161,500-a-year role in the autumn.

City bosses last night thanked him for his work, pointing to an annual community People’s Day as one of his successes.

In a statement issued by his new employers, Mr Barradell said: “This is a truly unique opportunity to manage an organisation which is steeped in history at the heart of London and the nation."

When he got the job of chief executive of Brighton and Hove in the summer of 2009 he promised to deliver a “council the city deserves”.

However the political make-up of the council was significantly altered in May 2011 when the minority Conservative administration was replaced with the UK’s first Green council.

During his tenure Mr Barradell has overseen a restructure of the council which has cost more than £1 million and saw four senior directors receive pay-offs.

In their place, a quartet of £125,000-a-year strategic directors were hired with the purpose of implementing “intelligent commissioning”, a way of avoiding the duplication of services while saving money.

However, in recent months, city bosses and opposition councillors have criticised the plan adding there has been “little or no proof” of it working.

Message to workers

In a message sent to council workers yesterday, Mr Barradell said: “I am sorry that you may have read about my selection as the preferred candidate in The Argus today.

“I was unable to announce my move earlier as my appointment had to be ratified by the City of London Council which met this afternoon.

“It’s been nearly three years since I came to the best city by the sea and I have had a very enjoyable time both working for the council and living in the city.

“I have been truly impressed with the dedication and professionalism of my council colleagues.

“It’s been quite an experience too; we’ve had some pioneering initiatives, not least introducing intelligent commissioning and bedding in the UK’s first Green administration.

“No doubt there will be more innovative ideas ahead, which I know the administration and the staff will make a success.

“Details of exactly when I will leave, the appointment of a successor and the structure of the senior management team will follow in the next few days.”


Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “John has made an enormous contribution to Brighton and Hove.

“He has played a major role in developing the council's culture and services to be more modern and efficient.

“He has ably supported our new administration whilst also celebrating the city's achievements and diversity with schemes like People’s Day and The Big Difference award. I wish him all the best in his new role.”

Mary Mears was Conservative leader of the council when John Barradell was appointed in 2009 and described his early departure as “a great shame”.

She said: “John has been one of the most professional chief executives this city has ever had.

“The fact is the old ways of running local authorities just don't work and John saw this - but unfortunately some political groups don't see further than the end of their nose. His vision for the city was about bringing people together but he has been put under tremendous pressure. It's a great shame that he is leaving so soon.”

Tony Mernagh, chief executive of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, was surprised by the news and said Mr Barradell's departure came at a bad time for the city. He said: “It's unfortunate that we are losing a chief executive at a time when the city faces many challenges.

“It places a huge burden of responsibility on the administration and other councillors to ensure that we get a replacement of sufficient calibre. John certainly doesn't leave at a good time for the city. It's a pity that he couldn't see his vision through to the end because generally when new chief executives arrive they want to implement their own ideas. We have had a lot of visions over the last few years so it means more uncertainty and that's certainly not what we want.”

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “In just one year the Green Party has led the city into disarray with constant U-turns and a lack of political direction. So it's no surprise that senior staff are now leaving. We wish John well in his new role.”

Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “First of all I would like to wish John well for the future. But his departure compounds the fact that the great Green experiment is failing, and that the chief executive simply cannot work under the terms set by an idealistic but unrealistic Green Party.”