Rotherham official to be new Lewisham Chief Executive


Recommendation made that Ian Thomas be appointed.

Former Kindertransport refugee appointed Mayoress of Lewisham

:information_source: Courtesy reminder - whilst this is a local topic and should stay in the main forum, any replies of a general political nature may be moved by moderators into the #general-politics category (opt-in here: @General_Politics)


I am completely lost. We have not had elections yet. How he can be appointed?


I don’t think his role is politically aligned.

He’s the chief exec, which I believe means he carries out the wishes of the elected mayor and council.


But the mayor has not been elected… Or…


The Chief Executive has the role to manage the executive branch and its team of managers who “do” the managing and provide a lead to officers of the council in their day-to-day tasks. The Chief Executive is not an elected role. A Chief Executive can be fired for non-performance of their duties by the council.

In May we all get to elect the the new Lewisham Mayor and our councillors. Their role is to set council policies (only sometimes in conformance with their election manifesto’s) and the executive branch has the duty to implement the policies as set by the Mayor and the councillors.

Their role is not one they can normally be fired from except in extreme cases. We get to choose at the next election whether we will vote for them again and therefore they get to keep their role.


I get that, but who appoints the Chief Executive? Mayor?


More details of the process can be found at


The narrative was doing alright until this phrase " …an appointments panel consisting of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham and a cross-party group of eight councillors"

It is my recall that there is only one non-labour party councillor…

So why not say it simply - the Mayor and seven Labour councillors plus one Green Party councillor approved the selection.

There are no other “cross-party” members in the elected body.

Apparently the final approval will go to Full Council on 14 March 2018.


Seems a bit weird for someone to accept a senior position 2 months before an election, where they could be replaced?


My guess is this: if it were the other way round, i.e. the CEO is appointed after the Mayor and councillors have been voted in, then there could be an impression given of nepotism.

If the new mayor had another candidate in mind, it will be much harder to fire the new CEO under these circumstances.

None of this is to suggest that any such event would occur but it makes sense to me for the procedure to mitigate the risk.


Seems dysfunctional. Surely the Mayor and the Chief Exec need to get along with each other?

Lewisham Chief Exec Ian Thomas leaves after seven months

How does it work in private sector with chairman and CEO?


The Chief Executive is expected to carry out the role without political bias, but with direction from politicians. This is a role familiar to thousands of senior civil servants in local and central government. Unlike in America, civil service appointments are not impacted by changes of administration.

More details on the selection process and recommendation can be found at:

Not too dissimilar, including using similar executive search firms to ensure they get the right person (or they could just appoint a friend - but large companies tend to be a bit more careful than that).


I’m no expert, but the board (headed by the chairman) selects and hires the CEO, no? That’s pretty much why I assumed the Mayor would select the Chief Exec. My reasoning was shareholders (voters) choose board members and chairman (Mayor and councillors) who in turn select the CEO.

I guess the way Michael explains it makes sense, but I would’ve thought that the civil servants were all below CE level. I’m not implying there’s cronyism involved, there appear to be enough checks and balances to prevent that, but as a Mayor I most definitely would want to have a CE that I got along with, it would just make the job so much easier.


There is many a CEO who would share the same sentiment about the Chair. As long as they can work together, that is all that really matters.


Agreed, but we’re talking how the chair feels about the CEO, and whether or not the CEO is able to deliver the vision of the board.


There’s a very good chance the next Mayor of Lewisham was on the selection panel.


Selection of the CEO in Lewisham is in constitution that it has to be approved by the full Council. Therefore it cannot be just the decision of the Mayor and his cabinet (picked by the Mayor)
It has to be cross party appointment and therefore the one green was invited to be on the selection panel.
Everyone will appreciate that it is not realistic for all 54 councillors to be actively selecting the new CEO, and therefore we selected a panel to do it. We will be voting tonight on the recommendation.

It has been already mentioned that role of CEO is not a political one, they are not elected and their appointment is not connected to the election but to the open vacancy.


Thanks Maja, that’s great info. It’s nice to learn a little about how the sausage is made.