Sir Steve Bullock says he is “humbled” and “grateful” after he stormed to victory in the Mayor of Lewisham elections with more than 50 per cent of the votes.
This marks Labour’s Sir Steve’s fourth term as Mayor and he beat off competition from six other candidates to claim the position with 36,659 votes.
He says the next four years will be “difficult” with stringent central government budget cuts and his top priority will be tackling a London-wide housing crisis.
He said: “I am very grateful to the residents of Lewisham for giving me another term. It is actually quite humbling to get a vote of confidence like that. It is going to be quite a difficult four years so it is a good way to start knowing people have said, OK, we think you are doing alright, carry on.”
When asked whether he will consider another term after the four years, Sir Steve added: “At the end of the term, I will be a few days short of my 65th birthday, so people can make their own conclusions.”
The overwhelming Labour victory in Lewisham, with just one Green party member, John Coughlin in Brockley ward, acting as opposition has led to concerns about who will scrutinise the council.
Sir Steve said: “There is a lot of talk about this. You almost feel it isn’t our fault that we did so well.
“There is a scrutinising process within the council.
“Even though we are from the same party, scrutiny committees will question what I am doing. There is a process there that will challenge.
“As the Mayor, there is nowhere to hide and that has always been the case whether with a big majority or not.
“Beyond that, we will, as we already do, want to be transparent about what it is we are doing.”
He went on to say local assemblies also allowed residents to question and make suggestions to councillors about their performance.
He added: “Seeing this UKIP surge nationally, I was very pleased the fact that didn’t happen in Lewisham, which I think says something about the type of community that we are.
“We have our problems, but we are also a community that doesn’t fall for those kind of simplistic reactions to problems.”
He spoke of the many changes he has seen in his 12 years as Mayor and says he is “most excited” by the Young Mayor of Lewisham scheme.
He said: “I look around the borough and there’s been a lot of physical change. I can see lots of our secondary schools have been rebuilt or had major modernisation.
“I see lots of public buildings, things like the Deptford Lounge which is a fantastic building and on my own doorstep Forest Hill Leisure Centre.
“Local assemblies are something we only introduced about six years ago and have become part of the way our community works.
“The thing I am always most excited about is our Young Mayor programme and the way that today you see young people coming out of Lewisham Town Hall who feel that it is their town hall and that gives me real optimism for the future.
“It was very unusual to see young people there 12 years ago.”
In Lewisham, there was a 37.2 per cent turnout for the Mayoral elections with 73,204 voters.
Tory candidate Simon Nundy came in second with 11.14 per cent of the votes, while the Lib Dems' Duwayne Brooks was in third place with 10.02 per cent.
Close behind was Mike Keogh from the Green Party with 10 per cent of the votes and Lewisham People Before Profit candidate John Hamilton took 8.33 per cent.
UKIP’s Peter Lello gained 7.87 per cent of Lewisham’s votes while Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate Chris Flood took home just 1.88 per cent.
Sir Steve Bullock has now announced the nominations for his new cabinet. Councillors Susan Wise, Crada Onuegbu and Helen Klier have lost their positions. In their place come newcomers Joe Dromey and Rachel Onikosi along with returned Blackheath councillor Kevin Bonavia
Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Growth and Regeneration - Councillor Alan Smith
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People - Councillor Paul Maslin
Cabinet Member for Community Safety - Councillor Janet Daby
Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Older People - Councillor Chris Best
Cabinet Member for the Public Realm -Councillor Rachel Onikosi
Cabinet Member for Resources - Councillor Kevin Bonavia
Cabinet Member for Policy and Performance - Councillor Joe Dromey
Cabinet Member for the Third Sector and Community - Councillor Joan Millbank
Cabinet Member for Housing - Councillor Damien Egan
Sir Steve said: “As we begin a very challenging period for Lewisham I am proposing a Cabinet which mixes experience and fresh faces who together will provide the direction we need.
“I particularly want to thank Cllrs Klier, Onuegbu and Wise who have worked with me for many years and are now moving on to other roles.”
The mayor will put these nominations to a special confirmation hearing to be held prior to the Annual General Meeting of the council on June 11.