THE man who played an instrumental role in the demise of a York factory which employed disabled people is to leave his job - with a resounding "good riddance" ringing in his ears from workers.

Remploy chief executive Bob Warner has chosen to retire from his high-flying post when his five-year contract expires in November, having led the Government-owned company's controversial modernisation programme which saw 28 sites being closed.

The ex-employees of the Redeness Street plant, one of the victims of the axe, say they will be glad to see him go as they face a tough search for new positions in mainstream employment following its closure earlier this month, with many fearing they will be unable to find suitable jobs or be forced into low-paid work.

Mr Warner has denied he is leaving following criticism of his role in the closure programme, saying: "I have been discussing my decision to retire with close friends and colleagues for some months.

"I felt it was better to leave in November so my successor can continue driving forward a modernised Remploy."

The company's chairman Ian Russell said the search for a new chief executive would begin shortly and praised Mr Warner, saying: "He has led Remploy through a very important stage of its development and has been successful in securing Government approval for our modernisation plan.

"I am personally very sorry Bob has decided to leave, but understand his decision."

But the GMB union, which represented most of Remploy's 51-strong York workforce, were less sorry at the news, with national secretary Phil Davies saying: "This is good news for Remploy and its remaining disabled workers.

"It would be hypocritical if I said we were sorry to see him go - we are not. He has presided over decline and he was the driving force behind the closure of the York factory. I am pleased to see the back of him and he will not be missed by anybody in York.

"I hope the Government will now appoint somebody with compassion as well as good business sense in their dealings with the disabled workers."

Ex-worker John Wilson, 58, of Tang Hall, said: "Bob Warner's main job seemed to be to destroy Remploy and he will leave behind a lot of damage and a lot of bitter people."