THE CHIEF executive of Winchester City Council is leaving the council.

Simon Eden, 55, is standing down after 13 years, it has been revealed.

The council has confirmed that Simon Eden is standing down and leader Stephen Godfrey has said he is “saddened” by the news.

The announcement was made after the City Council’s Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Mr Eden has been subject to repeated criticism of the £150m Silver Hill redevelopment which collapsed earlier this year.

Today he denied his resignation was anything to do with the scheme: "You have to deal with challenges. It was not a factor. You have to put up with the rough times. If you weren't tough enough to deal with that you would not be doing the job anyway.

He added: "It has been great fun and I have genuinely enjoyed every minute. It is the best job in Winchester in terms of doing good stuff for the city.

"There's a time to move on. I want to try a mix of things, a portfolio carer, things like consultancy and non-exec directorships."

Cllr Godfrey said: “Simon Eden has announced his departure from Winchester City Council and I am saddened by the news.

“For 13 years, Simon has served Winchester with great distinction, always demonstrating the highest standards of integrity. He has handled the many challenges of his role with dignity and good humour, treating councillors, staff and the public with respect and kindness.

“The many different leaders of both parties have been supported diligently and fairly by Simon, regardless of whatever we asked of him. Simon has shown true leadership in transforming the council into a much more flexible and responsive organisation, while still retaining the trust and support of the council staff.

“Winchester and the city council will miss Simon Eden. He will leave the council in a much stronger position than when he joined. I thank him for his service to Winchester and wish him well for the future.”

Cllr Godfrey concluded: “No immediate decisions will be made on filling the vacancy and the council’s senior managers will continue with business-as-usual in the interim.”

Mr Eden will continue as chief executive until September. He has lived in Winchester for 30 years and worked for four and half years at Southampton City Council.