TWO Hampshire County Council bosses on six-figure salaries have announ-ced that they are to quit as part of management cuts.

Yinnon Ezra, 57, is taking early retirement from his £125,000-a-year post as director of culture, communities and rural affairs after eight years with the council.

Alison Quant will also retire early from her £140,000-a-year job as director of economic development.

Ms Quant, believed to be in her 50s, was appointed to the newly-created post in September 2009 after previously working as director of environment for seven years.

Both are believed to be entitled to full pensions as the early retirements are part of a restructure aimed at saving taxpayers’ money. Neither will be replaced.

The council is refusing to reveal the size of their golden handshakes, but details will be published in the council’s accounts for 2010-11 under new transparency rules.

County bosses approved spending up to £10million from reserve funds to pay the extra cost of a more generous voluntary redundancy scheme, with payouts double the statutory rate.

The county council has 1,052 managers earning between £50,000 and £219,000, excluding school staff. Bosses aim to cut management costs by 25 per cent.

During his time at the council, Mr Ezra has hit the headlines by questioning whether fiction should remain in libraries “as most people buy books”.

He also axed qualified librarian posts, and raided the library book fund to pay for building refurbishments.

But revamping traditional libraries in Winchester, Gosport and now Basingstoke into multi-million-pound discovery centres has been hailed a huge success.

Mr Ezra said: “My main obsession has always been on customers and providing quality facilities that will encourage more people to use them – our many awards and increased visitor figures prove this.”

The county council’s culture, communities and recreation department is to merge with property, business, regulatory services and IT – creating a new culture, communities and business services department with one director instead of two.

Paying tribute, chief executive Andrew Smith said: “Yinnon has revitalised the cultural and artistic services he has been involved with. His leadership and judgement in rural, cultural, community services, museums and libraries has created an enormous legacy for communities across Hampshire.”

Meanwhile, the economic development team is to join the environment department.

Ms Quant said that high points in her career included seeing Hampshire become the leading authority in the country for managing household waste and burying less in landfill.

Christine Melsom, founder of anti council tax group IsItFair, welcomed the savings in senior staff salaries but said that the county should disclose the early retirement packages now.

She said: “I think council taxpayers are entitled to know what the settlements are for senior executives.

“It is not council money being handed out but taxpayers’ money.”