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Official behind city's Big Dig to step down

A KEY city official, tipped as a man to replace Sir David Henshaw as Liverpool's chief executive, quit his job yesterday.

Charlie Parker - leaving the town hall after five years

Regeneration director Charlie Parker, recruited to help drive the renaissance of the city, announced that he was heading for the private sector.

His departure comes just two weeks after his deputy, Tom McCabe, announced he was leaving Liverpool to take up a position with Cheshire County Council.

Mr Parker is joining Enterprise plc, the company with contracts in Liverpool for street cleaning and highways work through its subsidiary Enterprise-Liverpool, a joint venture with the council.

The company has a contract in the city worth £180m over 10 years.

Mr Parker's department is responsible for masterminding the "Big Dig", the roadworks which have infuriated thousands of motorists as they try to make their way through the streets of Liverpool city centre.

He will be departing at a time when he is the council's lead negotiator on major regeneration schemes such as the trams, Grosvenor, Kings Dock and the cruise liner landing stage, many of which are at a critical stage of development.

Mr Parker, hired by the council five years ago with a bigger pay packet than the Prime Minister, is currently in Paris where he is addressing a major conference about the Paradise Street project.

Last night, he denied that controversy over the Big Dig, or the turmoil at the top of the city council involving chief executive Sir David Henshaw and council leader Mike Storey, had anything to do with his decision to leave.

But he did say that the prolonged wrangling at the town hall had been "less than good for the city" and "a difficult time".

Mr Parker said: "I have been in Liverpool for just over 10 years and I have seen quite a significant amount of regeneration activity.

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