A SOCIAL services chief is to stand down, leading to the downsizing of Worcestershire County Council's cabinet.

Coun Philip Gretton, cabinet member for adult social care for the last eight years, stepped down today. The county council's leader, Coun Adrian Hardman, made the announcement this morning.

The decision means that there will now be nine members in the cabinet, which is in line with the council's commitment to reduce the number of cabinet members.

Coun John Campion will be combining his existing role as cabinet member for localism and communities with the role of adult social care with immediate effect. As well as being a key decision maker as a member of cabinet over the past eight years, which has included two terms as portfolio holder for adult social care, Coun Gretton, an accountant by profession, was assistant to the cabinet member for social services from 2002 to 2003 and chairman of Health Overview and Scrutiny between 2003 and 2005.

Commenting on the decision, Coun Adrian Hardman said: "I would like to thank Philip for his commitment and dedication during his time as a cabinet member for the county council, but more importantly I'd like to acknowledge the enormous passion that he has shown for well-being of the service users and residents that benefit from the services within his cabinet area. At a time when consultation and tough decision-making have become ever more important to the residents of Worcestershire, Philip has embraced this and always tried to put the service user at the heart of the decision. I wish him well for the future; he will of course be standing for re-election to the county council as a Conservative candidate for Redditch South.

"Philip decided that after eight years in office he did not intend to continue holding responsibility for adult social care, even if re-elected in May. So he and I agreed that an early handover would help to provide continuity in this important role."

Eddie Clarke, director of adult and community services at the county council, who has worked closely with Coun Gretton for over 10 years, said: "Philip has always been incredibly supportive of adult social care and social services more generally. He has led us through difficult times, particularly in recent years as the council has had to respond to the challenges of austerity."