Tim Byles, chief executive of Norfolk council, is to take over from Richard Bowker in November

Partnerships for Schools, the delivery body for the £45bn Building Schools for the Future programme, has appointed a new chief executive.

Tim Byles, currently chief executive of Norfolk council, will take over from Richard Bowker in November.

Bowker quit recently after eight months in the job. He will take up a position as chief executive of transport company National Express.

Previously, Byles was director of economic development at Kent council. For the past four years he has also held the role of chair of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. He has also been chair of the Local Government Taskforce and a national procurement champion for the ODPM.

Jim Knight, minister for schools, said he understood it was a tough job. He said: “The task we have given them is huge and Tim’s role will be a challenging one. However, with a strong emphasis on great design and solid partnerships, it is clear that Building Schools for the Future will deliver schools fit for the 21st century.”

The news of the appointment comes at a turbulent time for the BSF programme, amid speculation and grumbles that the programme is delayed. Only one scheme has so far reached financial close, despite Bowker pledging that 10 projects were likely to have reached financial close by next March.