When John Barradell joined Brighton and Hove City Council three years ago, its satisfaction rating with the public was 45 per cent.
In the same survey 80 per cent said that they liked living here and up to 80 per cent were satisfied with services that the council provided.
But overall the council was in the bottom 25 per cent in the country.
Unusually for an incoming chief executive, he came with extensive private sector experience. And he was determined that his staff should provide a better customer experience.
He is leaving with the most recent survey showing satisfaction at 66 per cent.
The jump of 21 percentage points is the biggest over two years by any council and puts Brighton and Hove among the top 25 per cent in the country.
Mr Barradell is off to run the City of London Corporation as town clerk and chief executive.
The council for the Square Mile is offering more money, having searched for someone who would not only run services well for a demanding electorate.
But the City also wants someone able to hold his own in the international arena. It wants someone who will win big business as well as keep existing firms happy.
The City’s gain is our city’s loss. It suggests that the widely liked Mr Barradell’s reputation may be better on the bigger stage than in his own backyard.
In the world of local government he is seen as an innovator – even a pioneer. Outsiders have watched his changes in Brighton and Hove with some interest.
After arriving here he pledged to create “a council the city deserves”. The four-year plan had three strands: provide excellent customer service, be an efficient and effective council and give value for money.
The policy was called “intelligent commissioning”. It built on some things that were already happening while looking for fresh ways to cut waste and duplication across the public sector without damaging services.
Some critics would like to have seen more and quicker progress. Others were worried about the inevitable job losses that this would bring.
Four senior council officials were among those to leave shortly after Mr Barradell arrived. They were well known and well liked.
Four strategic directors were brought in from outside. Two years on and two of them are also set to leave.
One council insider indicated that this was in part a product of the political uncertainty as a Labour-run council turned first Conservative and then Green.
With half the senior management team serving their notice, new leader Jason Kitcat has a remarkable hand.
Like Mr Barradell, he has encouraged openness in the council’s working. And like Mr Barradell, he is switched on to the possibilities that the digital revolution can bring for Brighton and Hove.
The test comes with joint working.
Councillor Kitcat is keen to appoint a temporary chief as soon as possible while a search is carried out for a permanent replacement.
The answer could be on our doorstep.
They shared the cost of employing the existing Adur chief, Ian Lowrie, whose home was in Brighton.
Gradually they have shared the cost of a growing number of staff and services.
Brighton and Hove already collaborates with Lewes District Council in a few areas and its chief executive, Jenny Rowlands, joined from the city council.
Few would doubt her ability to hold the fort here and keep the show on the road there. She knows the city well and still lives here.
And she would buy the Greens time.
Councillor Kitcat would then have a top opportunity to think strategically about the future of Brighton and Hove rather than just fill a vacant senior job.
He could change the political landscape of East Sussex and shape the future for generations.
While there would be many obstacles along the way, he has demonstrated boldness before.
He now has a chance to settle for the status quo or secure his own and Mr Barradell’s legacy to the city and beyond.