Critics of Barnet Council’s privatisation programme believe the authority’s CEO, who announced his resignation yesterday, is “jumping ship”.

CEO Nick Walkley quit his £200,000-a-year job to take up the vacant chief executive role at Haringey Council.

Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) has long campaigned against the One Barnet Programme, through which the authority plans to outsource a large percentage of its services.

In a statement, BAPS co-ordinator Tirza Waisel said: “Nick Walkley was front and centre of the One Barnet programme. With decisions on who to award the first two massive contracts just weeks away, residents and Barnet staff learn that he is leaving Barnet. We call this jumping ship.

“If he were confident that One Barnet is right for the borough, wouldn’t he want to stay and share in its success?”

“The One Barnet programme is clearly in disarray. Given the chaos at the top of Barnet Council, we call on Richard Cornelius to halt the One Barnet programme and return the Council to soberly delivering good quality services in-house.”

Conservative leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius has not yet commented on the CEO’s departure in detail but he did issue this statement this afternoon: “Nick has been an exceptional chief executive who has a can do attitude that has served Barnet well and leaves us in a good place to face the future.”

Barnet Council says it will announce further details on the transition “shortly”.