THE chief executive of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, Alan Wenham, has announced that he is quitting his top post less than three months after the Conservatives took control.
Mr Wenham, 58, wants to take voluntary redundancy or early retirement from the authority where he held his high-ranking job since 1991.
Labour rivals of the new administration have voiced rumours of a 'clash' between Mr Wenham and Tory lead-ers.
Their shadow personnel chief, Cllr Maurice Jones, said: 'Alan Wenham is a first class chief executive and has given excellent service to this borough.
'I suspect there has been a clash between him and the new Tory-led administration and I am not surprised he has decided to leave given their plans for massive cuts in front line services.'
He said Mr Wenham's decision was a 'shock' and a 'damning verdict' on the new administration.
But on Monday Mr Wenham would not be drawn on his decision to leave.
He would not confirm or deny a 'clash' and said his proposal to leave was a matter for the full council to decide on September 20.
Darren Willetts, Unison spokesman for the council, said his resignation would be a major blow and could cast a doubt in the minds of investors looking to Crewe for a future.
He said: 'Mr Wenham has played an instrumental role in attracting new investment. Just look at how much things have changed over the last five years.
'We need to look credible and professional but this news will look worrying to outside investors.
'It is crucial that we maintain the momentum. We can't afford to take our foot off the pedal now.'
Earlier this year Conservatives, backed by Nantwich Independents, led a campaign for an elected mayor. They suggested money could be saved by axing the post of chief executive, but the move was defeated.
Cllr Brian Silvester, the Conservative leader of the council, said the situation was 'delicate' and not one for discussion before September 20.
But he added: 'There's been no clash and talks with Mr Wenham over his proposal have been amicable.'
In response to the claim of cutting services, he said: 'That's rubbish. We are looking to improve services, not cut them.'