Outspoken council chief steps down

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A COUNCIL chief executive who has courted controversy with outspoken comments about Government-imposed budget cuts yesterday announced he was stepping down from his role by “mutual consent”.

Phil Coppard has been an officer at Barnsley Council for 30 years, has been in the top job for more than a decade and made dire predictions when faced with cutting his budget by £45m over four years.

Last January, Mr Coppard branded Communities Secretary Eric Pickles a “clown” for presiding over the cuts and said the Government’s spending demands would lead to a “minimum council” in Barnsley.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Coppard said: “It has been an enormous privilege to serve as the council’s chief executive for such a long period and I am extremely proud of what has been achieved during that time.

“Over the last 12 years the council has been at the forefront of change and improvement in local government.

“The most recent challenge has been coping with the savage reductions in the council’s budget. This will require a new direction for the council and new management to take it forward.

“A part of me will be forever Barnsley and I shall follow the future progress of the council and the borough with great interest.”

Recruitment for Mr Coppard’s successor will start next month.