Lewisham appoints first Black CEO


Lewisham has elected Ian Thomas as the new CEO of its council. The announcement comes following a rigorous selection process that included recommendations from multiple key actors in the borough.

Thomas currently serves as the Strategic Director for Children and Young People at Rotherham Council. Under his leadership the borough has seen a drastic increase in children’s services, including key advancements in education. Most notably, he led the response to one of Britain’s worst child sexual abuse scandals, resulting in over 30 sex criminals being convicted.

Upon his recommendation, he stated:

I feel both humbled and privileged to be offered the role of Chief Executive of Lewisham Council. This is an exciting time for the borough, which has been well led by Dr Barry Quirk and Sir Steve Bullock over many years. I look forward to working with the new mayor, ward councillors, staff, partners and residents, to build on what has been achieved in the borough, address the challenges ahead, as well as seize the opportunities to improve the lives of all Lewisham citizens.”

The Lewisham borough, which is approximately 46% black and minority ethnic, celebrates the election of Thomas, who comes from an African/ Caribbean background. His recommendation makes him the first African/Caribbean male to secure the position from the borough.

And while Thomas’ triumph is worth celebrating, the advancement comes with a bittersweet realization. Thomas is only the second person of color to be added to the group of London CEOs. Kim Dero of Hammersmith and Fulham serves as the only other current person of minority background. So while over 40% of London identifies as black and minority ethnic, the BME population only comprise of 6% of council CEOs. This marks a serious disproportion in representation.

Thomas’ recommendation marks a step in the right direction and will hopefully inspire future change. His recommendation will stand Full Council on March 14. We wish him the best of luck in this journey and all future endeavours.

Cameron de Matteis