The chief executive of Haringey Council is stepping down to take on a new role within the NHS.

Zina Etheridge said she was “very proud” of what had been achieved during her eight “amazing” years at the council and “incredibly sorry” to be leaving Haringey.

She said the civic centre had made improvements to planning and children’s and adults’ services during her tenure, as well as starting a programme to build council homes and delivering a balanced budget at a “very difficult time for public sector finances”.

Zina added: “We have built a holistic approach to reducing youth violence and supported the police to improve community trust in community safety. We have 22 Green Flag parks and maintained them to that quality despite huge reductions in our budgets.

“Our work over the pandemic was exceptional, including from our public health team who performed brilliantly, supporting schools, early years settings and community groups, setting up test centres and supporting the vaccination effort without even appearing to break into a (metaphorical) sweat. Our staff put their hearts and souls into ensuring that Haringey’s residents were as well supported and protected as possible.”

Before joining Haringey Council in 2013, Zina held roles in the civil service and previously served as assistant chief executive at neighbouring Barnet Council from 2009 to 2011. She was initially appointed Haringey’s director of strategy and performance, becoming deputy chief executive in 2013 and securing the top job in 2017.

Zina, who said she was “really excited” to be joining the NHS, said that Haringey “feels like a family”. She added: “It certainly feels like part of my family, and I will always carry a bit of Haringey with me.”

Council leader Cllr Peray Ahmet thanked Zina “for the support she has shown me and my new leadership team over the past few months” and said: “Zina brought her outstanding management skills to the borough. She created stability and drove through changes here which have vastly improved outcomes for residents.

“During Covid, Zina was a steady hand, skilfully navigating us through the crisis and dealing with the many issues which arose almost on an hourly basis. Her partnership working has always been a huge strength and it came to the fore city-wide when she led across London as chair of the London Councils chief executives network, co-ordinating the local response to Covid.

“We all wish well in the future – and I will very much miss her advice and counsel.”

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison paid tribute and said: “I’d like to thank Zina for her many years of service to Haringey – in particular, her contribution to the council’s pandemic response has been invaluable, especially given the background of ongoing instability in the borough’s political leadership. 

“I also always found her to be fair and helpful to councillors on both benches, and I, and the whole Liberal Democrat group, wish her the best of luck for the future.”