YORK'S education and social care chief is to leave his post in April and take on a new role at a neighbouring council.

Pete Dwyer, City of York Council's director of adults, children and education, will become the new director of children and young people at North Yorkshire County Council.

He joined the York authority in 2001 and the council said today that his time in the post had seen his portfolio rated among the best of its type in the UK. Mr Dwyer will replace Cynthia Welbourn, who retired from the county council position last month after 17 years.

"My time in York has been the most rewarding of my career and I've enjoyed both the opportunities and the challenges which have presented themselves over the last 12 years," said Mr Dwyer.

"I am leaving confident that, while there is always more to be done, the service is in excellent shape and in good hands. It's now time for me to take on new challenges and I will be looking to replicate the partnership approach which is central to York's success."

Mr Dwyer's recent work in York has included leading a shake-up of care for elderly people in the city, with outdated care homes being replaced by new facilities.

His time in the role has seen the council become the only authority outside London to be judged as "excellent" by Ofsted in each of the four years since annual performance assessments for all aspects of children's services were introduced, although it also saw the controversial closure of Burnholme Community College being approved.

"Pete has been an invaluable figurehead in the provision of adults, children's and education services, but also as a key part of my senior management team," said the council's chief executive Kersten England.

"His experience and understanding of the city's requirements in this field and his capacity for delivery has resulted in us having one of the best children and young people's services in the country and has set us on the journey to vastly-improved provision for elderly people in York. He will be missed and I wish him well."

Coun Janet Looker, cabinet member for education, children and young people, said Mr Dwyer had made a "fantastic contribution" to York and had worked hard to protect vulnerable youngsters. She said: "He has made a tangible difference to the work of the council, and I know he will be missed by all those who have worked with him, which is testament to his standing in the council".

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, cabinet member for health, housing and adult social services, said Mr Dwyer had played his part in the council "taking some brave decisions in difficult financial circumstances" on care for elderly people, saying: "I would particularly like to thank Pete for his support over the last 18 months as we embarked on the transformation of our city's elderly people's homes."

Originally from the north-east, Mr Dwyer worked briefly for Sheffield City Council before spending 18 years in social work and its management with Leeds City Council. He is a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group on Education and Children's Services and has carried out "peer improvement work" with other councils.

His current salary at the York authority is £102,766, and he is expected to earn between £107,479 and £128,975 in his county council role.

City of York Council has said it is "not immediately seeking to recruit" a replacement for Mr Dwyer and "internal arrangements" will be made to cover his portfolio, "pending a wider review of senior management responsibilities".