The top businessman selected to sit on the West Midlands city region board is quitting just months after taking up the post.
Ben Reid is to stand down as the business community member of the Birmingham, Black Country and Coventry City Region executive board from March 1.
His election in the summer caused controversy. There were claims it had been conducted with undue haste and just 23 business organisations were given the chance to vote. And there was evidence other serious candidates had backed off from standing once they saw how the election was being organised.
Peter Wall, who came second, will continue his role as back-up – billed the alternate business community member – while a new selection process is arranged.
Mr Reid, chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, the society formed just over a year ago when Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-operative merged with West Midlands Co-operative, is citing "personal business reasons" for his decision to go. He said: "Over the past month there have been significant changes within the national Co-operative movement. If I am to ensure that my society, Midcounties Co-operative, responds effectively to these changes, it is essential that I focus my attentions upon day to day responsibilities.
"However, I also accept there is a need for a handover period and for the business community to have the space and time to choose a successor. I will therefore be standing down as of March 1.
"I regret that this decision has had to be made but I am confident that Peter Wall is ideally placed to represent the business community while a new selection process is followed for my successor to be chosen.
"I have been asked 'what is the real story' – there is not a real story. It is as simple as that."
He insisted he still believed in the city region concept.
And he denied that his departure was in any way connected with the Government's apparent loss of enthusiasm for the idea.
Mr Reid said last week's White Paper, which favoured elected mayors but appeared to have abandoned radical plans for powerful city regions, had been "disappointing" and "an opportunity missed". But of his decision to step down just days afterwards, he said: "It would be wrong to link the two."
Mr Wall defended the manner in which the matter had been handled.
He claimed: "This shows the professionalism of the business community to adapt to changes promptly – ensuring that business keeps a strong voice at the table."
James Watkins, executive director of the West Midlands Business Council, the body charged with finding Mr Reid's successor, said he would be sticking with the electoral process previously used.
Mr Watkins said 23 business organisations, representing up to 190,000 businesses across the region, had already begun consulting their members about possible candidates. The form the consultation would take was a matter for each individual organisation, he added.
Mr Watkins said: "Once nominations are received we will inform the organisations of the candidates and there will be an election, if necessary, or some kind of democratic process whereby the person chosen would have democratic legitimacy.
"The issue is how do you carry out a democratic process where the person chosen can claim they have been supported by the business organisations? The best way is through the engagement of business representatives who through their own processes can decide their position."
City region director Simon Murphy said the project was making progress.
The eight councils involved were already working closely together with the Government on a number of important projects to tackle unemployment and poverty.
"I think you could say the city region is growing organically. It is a matter of work in progress and it was never expected that the Government would say much about city regions in the White Paper."