THURROCK Council chief executive Graham Farrant has announced he is to leave after nearly five years at the authority.

Mr Farrant is moving to the Land Registry to become their chief executive.

He joined Thurrock in August 2010, returning to public service from the private sector.

He had previously been chief executive of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a role he returned to when Thurrock and Barking agreed to share his services, which ended in January.

Mr Farrant took over from interim Bob Coomber and has steered the council through a time which has seen it reabsorb its planning functions from the development corporation, bring Public Health into the heart of the council, lead what he describes as “the most exciting regeneration and growth agenda in the country”, and successfully deal with multi-million pound reductions in funding.

It’s expected Mr Farrant will leave following May’s general election.

Mr Farrant, who this month took on the role of job sharing with Brentwood Council, said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Thurrock, but it is now time for a new challenge.

“Thurrock is a far more stable and forward-thinking council and place than it was in 2010 and I owe a huge debt of thanks to everybody here for supporting and implementing the changes that have brought us to where we are now.”

Council leader, Councillor John Kent, paid tribute to Mr Farrant. He said: “Graham has been chief executive here nearly as long as I have been leader – I have a couple of months on him.

“I want to thank him for the way he has helped us through some of the most difficult times local authorities have ever faced and provided stability at the top after a very unstable few years – a time which saw six chief executives in four years, five monitoring officers in the same time, and numerous financial chiefs let alone uncountable interim this and interim that.

“The past four-and-a-half years have seen Thurrock move forward with improvements in education, in job creation, and in the arts - all areas where Graham has played an integral and often behind-the-scene role.

“Our responsibility now is to maintain that progress and build on it.”

Conservative leader Rob Gledhill said: “Since Graham arrived here we have seen a number of new initiatives and projects, some that have worked, such as the introduction of a leaner more efficient directors board and others that haven't, such as the management merger with London Borough of Barking Dagenham.

“I’m sure the many lessons learned will help benefit the Land Registry under Graham's leadership and I wish Graham well in his future role and thank him for his time and service at Thurrock.”