David Bittleston has unexpectedly stepped down as leader of Woking Borough Council.
He has been elected six times over the last 20 years to represent his Mount Hermon ward, and will still represent them.
He told councillors at a meeting on Thursday the council needed to recruit a new chief executive and now was the right time for him to hand over the leadership.
He said he and other group leaders would next month be recommending that the council considers retaining chief executive Ray Morgan’s services on a part-time basis.
He said: “I know that many people, councillors, members of staff and residents of Woking are very concerned that the loss of Ray Morgan’s input, particularly in the key strategic projects, like Victoria Square, Sheerwater regeneration and the Victoria Arch project, would be a mistake.”
Mr Bittleston thanked Mr Morgan, “who I suspect I have spent more time with over the last 10 years than anybody except my wife.
“A successful council can only be run where there is a shared vision between the chief executive and the leader. Ray and I have worked extremely well together. He asks, and I say no, works every time.”