Former Kindertransport refugee appointed Mayoress of Lewisham



Lewisham’s new mayor, Damien Egan, has chosen Liane Segal as his Mayoress.

Liane is an active member of her community and runs a range of activities for older residents in Lewisham and Bromley.

In 1939, when she was just seven years old, Liane fled her home in Vienna with the Kindertransport to escape the Nazis. After settling in Britain she went to Sydenham School for Girls and later worked as a clothes designer and had three children.

Damien said: ‘I am delighted that Liane Segal will be mayoress of Lewisham. Liane has been a longstanding campaigner against racism and antisemitism. I couldn’t think of a more inspirational figure for young people as our mayoress.


I had no idea the Mayor had powers to appoint a second mayor. Is this something new? Did ‘Sir’ Steve Bullock appoint another Mayor/Mayoress?


Steve Bullock’s wife automatically became mayoress. Damien Egan is not married.




Across the country I believe Mayors appoint in this way and have done for a long time. I don’t think its a great tradition, but it exists and don’t think Lewisham is out of step here.
Having said that, this seems a pretty good appointment - many people would like to see the Council held to account - appointing a local activist with a strong campaigning record like hers seems positive.


Are you seriously suggesting that the mayoress will be engaged in scrutinizing the executive function of the Mayor and Councillors, and the Borough administration?


Purely ceremonial role.


My cousin was voted mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham many years ago.
As he wasn’t at that point married he made my Auntie the mayoress.
Btw she sounds fantastic!
I wish her lots of luck in her new role


In the unlikely event that Lewisham builds anything (e.g. a footbridge from Perry Vale car park to Dartmouth Road), which mayor wears the chain and cuts the ribbon?

I’m also interested in the division of roles and responsibilities between the executive mayor and the Chief Exec. Any takers?


In my experience of being with both Mayor and Mayoress, the Mayor does all the work and wears the chain.

I’m kinda interested in the answer to the second question myself.


There is a chain for the mayoress but it is lighter than the full mayoral chain. Not sure why either are really needed - they could be sold off and replaced with cardboard versions (the chains not the mayors).


I imagine the relationship between the Mayor and the Chief Executive is similar to that between a Minister and the Permanent Secretary.


I’ll have a go.

The Mayor is democratically elected - see him as effectively the Prime Minister of Lewisham. He is mandated by electors to see through the programme of work he stood for election on. From the elected Councillors he selects a small governing Cabinet- each person with responsibility for leading and overseeing strategy on particular programmes of work - housing, social services, community programmes etc. See these people as his Cabinet Ministers. The remaining Councillors are effectively the MP’s - they have a vote, but no cabinet responsibility.

To implement the programmes there is a Chief Executive - see him as the Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet - who is a career senior manager in Local Government. Accountable to the Mayor, the CEO directs all programme implementation across Lewisham, delivering the strategies agreed by Cabinet. The CEO is responsible to the Mayor for programme delivery plus organisational structure, recruitment, managing finance, IT , HR and the employment of staff. Using his executive team and employees he provides advice, guidance and briefings to the Mayor and Cabinet.

The Executive (ie employed) team are career experts in their field, see them as Senior Civil Servants leading on eg housing, IT, HR, social services etc.

Oversight and scrutiny is through small oversight committees which will include non cabinet Councillors.

None of which takes away the fact that we can be confident of seeing the Mayor pictured in his chain and a hard hat (and high vis jacket a la George Osborne) when things are looking good - new housing development say, and a tin hat when venturing anywhere near Millwall.

That’s it (…withdraws to cupboard under the stairs and puts on own hard hat…).


Looks like we’re about to get a new Chief Exec

Barry Quirk is going at the same time as Steve Bullock, so it’s all changing at the top.

PS just a word about the Kinderstransport - which seems such an extraordinary episode: On the one hand Britain can be proud of rescuing thousands of children, but on the other hand, the families of these children were abandoned to the Nazis in Germany, Poland, Czeckoslovakia …


Related discussion: Rotherham official to be new Lewisham Chief Executive


He is in post now.