Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein to retire

15 Sep 16
Sir Howard Bernstein, who has helped to lead a series of devolution deals for Greater Manchester, is to retire as chief executive of Manchester City Council next spring.

The authority said that Bernstein, who joined the council as a junior clerk in 1971, has been chief executive since 1998, had played a central role in the regeneration and economic growth of the city. This included serving from 1996-99 as the chief executive of Manchester Millennium company that oversaw the transformation of the city centre in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bombing.

Bernstein also oversaw the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011 and the development of a series of historic devolution agreements between the group of ten authorities and government. These include greater local control of economic regeneration as well as a  groundbreaking deal to devolve NHS funding to the combined authority.

Bernstein said it has been a privilege to serve the city during such a pivotal period.
“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 lives here has the opportunity to share in, and contribute to, its growing success,” he stated.

“We have a clear, shared vision for the future direction of the city – set out in the Our Manchester Strategy which takes the city up to 2025 – and a strong platform from which to move forwards. But 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. There is still considerable work to do in the months ahead and my focus on it will not be diminished.”

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said Bernstein was 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,” he stated.

“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.”

Responding to the announcement, Treasury minister Jim O’Neill said that as a fellow Mancunian, he had seen first-hand the impact of Bernstein’s 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 added.

“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.”


Did you enjoy this article?