A SENIOR officer is leaving Bolton Council , as plans were unveiled to merge two of its biggest departments.

John Rutherford, Director of Health and Adult Social Care, is to leave the council at the end of the month as part of what the council said were plans to meet its £35.6 million spending cuts target.

Mr Rutherford has worked for the council since 2003 and earns £130,000 a year.

His department — the authority’s biggest with an annual budget of £95 million — could now be merged with the third biggest department, children’s services, as part of efforts to slash spending by £500,000.

Margaret Asquith, Director of Children’s Services, will take over responsibility for both departments on an interim basis ahead of a formal merger proposed for later this year. In an email to staff, council chief executive Sean Harriss said: “The council is in a difficult financial position and John’s decision will help us as we seek to deliver a further £500,000-worth of savings from the council’s top tier of management, the cost of which has already halved since 2009.

“Further detail about how the new department will operate on an interim basis will be set out by Margaret Asquith over the next few weeks.”

Mr Rutherford said: “I’ve appreciated my time in Bolton and would offer my best wishes to all who have worked with me.