Barbara Spicer, one of the key figures in the regeneration of Salford Quays has resigned as chief executive of Salford City Council.

Spicer has held the role for 8 years and is widely credited with ensuring that the MediaCityUK project worked. It was her negotiations with Peel Holdings and the BBC which ensured that despite the recession the investment went ahead.

In fact she started working on the MediaCityUK project before she officially joined the council – while working her notice period at Knowsley Borough Council.

Her decision today is officially because of an organisational and structural review by the Council’s elected mayor. However, it does come amid rumours of a fall-out between the two.

In a statement, mayor, Ian Stewart said:

“I informed staff recently that the council is undergoing a thorough review of its organisation and structure in the light of the £97 million government cuts since 2010. The review is prompted by the further £75 million in cuts which the government are forcing upon us over the next three years.

“Over recent months I have made it known to staff and the public that the current economic climate demanded that we look at all means of redesigning the way we work to ensure that we are fit for purpose by being appropriately structured operationally to face the challenges ahead.

“The chief executive Barbara Spicer has informed me that she would like to leave the council – we have reluctantly supported her request. This gave us the opportunity to commission an intensive review of our senior management structures so that we are able to lead the council through a period of unprecedented change.”

He added:

“Barbara’s departure will obviously have an impact on the wider review of how the council operates in the future under a City Mayor governance framework.

“I am sure staff will join me in wishing Barbara all the best in the future and thanking her sincerely for all the good work that she has done for the people of Salford.”

Previously Spicer said that MediaCityUK and Salford Quays was about helping young people “really raise their aspirations.”

“If young people in the city don’t believe that is their right, to be educated by us, and employed in jobs like that in their own city, we’ll have failed. It’s also about creating our own economy.”

Spicer joined Salford City Council in 2005, described back then as a “rock fan mum-of-two with dyed red hair” she had become a popular figure as Knowsley’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, with Spicer Grove named after her.

It’s not yet known what she plans to do next.