WREXHAM Council’s chief executive is to quit.

A statement issued by the local authority yesterday said Isobel Garner had given formal notice of her intention to leave the job.

No date for her departure has yet been set and councillors will meet in the New Year to determine the process for selecting a replacement.

The news comes weeks after controversy over Miss Garner’s earnings when it was revealed she was set to get a wage rise at a time when the council was facing making budget cuts worth more than £7 million.

If the increase is given the go ahead it would take the chief executive’s annual salary to about £109,000.

In the statement Miss Garner cites taking a career break and a desire to refresh herself for a new career direction as the reasons for taking the decision to step down.

She said: “I am proud and honoured to have had the opportunity to serve the council and the county borough of Wrexham.

“However, the time has come for me to take a career break and refresh myself for a new direction in my career. I have been considering this big personal step and life change for some time.

“It is now time for others to see the council’s transformation and collaboration plans through to fruition as I stand aside. My leaving date will be agreed in due course.

“As one of the longest serving chief executives in Wales, I will be leaving a legacy of a high performing council; a council with a strong reputation both regionally and nationally; a sound financial and resource base; a plan for progressive change and reform with a clear sense of priorities and direction; an established and strong management team and a set of trusting and effective local and regional partnerships.

“In the last seven and a half years, I have steered the council through many challenges and have been a key part of the member and officer team that has achieved so much.

“I have enjoyed the professional and personal relationships with senior members and officers of the council and local and regional partner organisations.”

Paying tribute to Miss Garner Wrexham Council leader, Cllr Aled Roberts, said: “I am saddened by this news but appreciate the extended notice Isobel is giving us of her intentions. I know she will continue to focus on the ongoing work and challenges until her departure.

“Isobel has been a strong and successful chief executive. She has ensured that the council is open and transparent and has had an extremely positive influence on Wrexham Council’s culture that has continued to drive our performance forward.

“As council leader I have enjoyed our strong working relationship over the last five years. Full council will now meet in the New Year to determine the process for Isobel’s replacement.”

Cllr Malcolm King said the news of Miss Garner’s intention to leave was a shock and he warned there would be repercussions for the council

“This really is quite a bombshell,” he said.

“The council is going through very difficult times with extremely painful cuts and redundancies happening throughout the organisation over the next few years.

“Losing all the knowledge and experience of the chief executive is bound to increase our difficulties.

“I have no idea why she is leaving. Although we have had some differences I wish her well for the future.”

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas added: “I was surprised to hear the news and I wish her well for the future.

“I am concerned that there is now uncertainty about the leadership of Wrexham Council at the top level in an already difficult climate for local government. I do hope councillors will take the necessary steps to resolve the uncertainty as soon as possible.”