Top council official who helped shape city to retire

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THE deputy chief executive of York Council who has helped shape some of the city’s most significant developments over the last decade-and-a-half is to retire.

Bill Woolley, who is also the authority’s director of city strategy, announced yesterday that he is due to step down in the early summer.

The council is undergoing a major restructuring of the top tier of its management, although it is understood that Mr Woolley’s decision to retire is his own personal choice.

He said: “Working for a city which I know so well and love has been a real privilege for me over so many years. York is such a special place and at the same time such an exciting place and helping to shape its future has been very rewarding.

“I am also leaving at a time when the city is in good shape, in good hands and looking well for the future, and so now is a good time for me to go and enjoy other things.”

Mr Woolley has worked for York Council throughout the last 16 years since its inception as a unitary authority in 1996, and he has been responsible for overseeing a series of major schemes.

Among the projects Mr Woolley has been involved in are the Millennium Bridge, the Foss Islands shopping centre and the multi-million pound regeneration of the Hungate area of the city. He has also helped draw up the council’s planned relocation to a new headquarters at West Offices in a scheme costing £43.8m.

The council is having to radically restructure its management as it makes £19.7m in cuts over the next two years amid the Government’s austerity drive. It emerged in November that plans had been drawn up to cut three assistant director posts from 16 roles, in a bid to save £250,000 a year. The announcement followed a major restructuring in July 2010, when the number of assistant directors was slashed from 21.

It is understood the authority is looking at options before deciding on whether to appoint another deputy chief executive.