City council chief jumps ship for post in London

Greg Ward

Greg Ward

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THE city council director behind key developments such as the £850 million St James revamp and the £1 billion City Deal has revealed he is to quit.

Greg Ward, executive director of economy and city strategy, will step down in November after securing a similar position at London’s Westminster Council.

As well as major infrastructure and finance programmes, Mr Ward has led projects including the Edinburgh Guarantee, which is aimed at ensuring every young person leaves school with the choice of a job, training or further education.

It is understood city chief executive Andrew Kerr will shortly confirm plans for Mr Ward’s replacement.

Mr Kerr said: “Greg Ward has headed the economic development service for almost eight years and has led many key council projects, such as the Edinburgh Guarantee jobs programme for school leavers and investment for the Edinburgh St James development.

“The service has helped to attract significant inward investment into the city and, most recently, has taken strides towards securing an Edinburgh City Region Deal.

“Greg will end his term in late November, when we will wish him well in his new position as director of economy for the City of Westminster.”

Mr Ward’s resignation is the latest in a string of top-level departures from the city council. In July, it emerged that Peter Gabbitas, former director of health and social care, would step down after being sent on leave amid reports of huge overspends in his department.

Dame Sue Bruce, Mr Kerr’s predecessor, left at the end of July following her announcement in February that she was retiring. And Mark Turley last year quit his post as director of services for communities.

Although well regarded, Mr Ward has found himself at the centre of controversy.

In April, The News revealed how he gave a presentation to fellow officials in which he suggested Alexander the Great’s army would have struggled to conquer the ancient world if its ranks had been manned by city council workers, because they would have been too busy totting up their overtime.

Senior council figures today paid tribute to Mr Ward’s years of service and said much of Edinburgh’s strong economic performance was due to his “dedication”.

Councillor Frank Ross, economy leader, said: “Edinburgh has an impressive economic development service which helps to bring major financial investment into the city, successfully supports enterprise and business growth and creates local employment opportunities.

“I thank Greg for his dedication fronting this critical council function for almost eight years I and wish him well with his new challenge.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com