Ian Thomas- Only Black Council CEO in UK -Stands Down After 7 Months


There is great concern that the only Black CEO- Ian Thomas- of any local authority in the UK has, in effect being forced to step down. Ian Thomas, who was the former service director at Rotherham Borough Council, has agreed to step down as Lewisham Council’s Chief Executive Officer seven month after being appointed. The Council haven’t specified the reason for Thomas’s departure.

Thomas was appointed by the previous mayor Sir Steve Bullock in March but he was soon replaced by the new administration two months after Thomas’ appointment. It is possible that Thomas’ departure might be the result of difficulty working with the new Mayor Damian Egan. According to the spokesperson of Lewisham Council, “Since May 2018, the new administration in Lewisham has reviewed its ways of working. With no negative reflection on Ian, it has been decided to take a new direction and following a constructive dialogue with Ian, he has agreed to step aside from his role at the end of this year.” However, Lewisham Council never gave a formal explanation for replacing Thomas.

Community activists in Lewisham have informed OBV that there is a deep worry that all BME staff could be under similarly scrutiny from the new elected Mayor. Others have expressed concern that his vision to tackle racial inequality in Lewisham was not welcomed. A current Lewisham resident praised that, “Many of us were excited and encouraged by the appointment of Ian Thomas given his national profile following transformation work in three other councils. Since his arrival, we have found him refreshing, visionary, visible and engaging and we were all looking forward to seeing the council becomes known for excellence, once again.”After Thomas’s departure, concerns were raised about BME children not getting the priority support needed. Nearly two thousand people have signed a petition demanding Thomas be reinstated.

Marvin Kwang