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Sir Steve Bullock marks decade as Mayor of Lewisham
LEWISHAM'S first and, so far, only elected mayor marks a decade in the job today.
But there will be no celebrating in the Bullock household - not until Friday anyway.
Sir Steve said: "If Thursday is a good night for Labour, I'll be celebrating that instead. That matters."
Lewisham's leader has been mayor of the borough for 10 years, longer than many council leaders stay put, and there have been persistent rumours he may soon stand aside.
But he dismissed the suggestion, saying: "I'm not stepping down at this stage.
"My party will take a view in due course on whether they'd like me to be a candidate for a fourth term."
And neither does he want to follow previous councillors like Heidi Alexander and Jim Dowd to become an MP.
He said: "They do a fantastic job for Lewisham but what I've learned as mayor is that I'm able as mayor to make a difference for the better in people's lives in a way that is harder for MPs to achieve."
During those 10 years he has steered through big regeneration projects, overseen building of new schools and introduced local assemblies.
But Lewisham's youth unemployment statistics are some of the country's worst, a primary school place crisis is still bubbling away and knife crime remains a major problem.
He pointed to successful apprenticeship schemes and, on unemployment statistics, said: "This seems to be based on a single statistical measure and is not sustained by any wider analysis."
With crime, he said: "Youth violence is a huge issue for the city. I wish I could build a wall around Lewisham and find some way of fixing that.
"But this is something that crosses borough borders."
And he blamed statistics from the London Assembly which showed Lewisham had too many primary places for the current shortage in the borough. "So far, we've been able to cope," he said.
Sir Steve says the high point in his 10 years has been setting up the Young Mayor and advisors scheme in 2004.
He said: "It's engaged thousands of young people in the borough.
"The election itself allows them to try campaigning and think 'that's brilliant'.
"But its also meant that here in the town hall there are continually young people in and out - it's their town hall now."
It's been a difficult few years for the borough, with millions being slashed from the council budget - a programme which led to violent scenes at the town hall in 2010.
Sir Steve said: "It's not something that I feel remotely happy about.
"I find it incredibly difficult that we're having to dismantle things which we know are important to the community.
"But I also know there isn't an alternative so we have to do that as well and as fairly as we can."
10 years of Bullock
:: "I now have to live up to what people of Lewisham have asked me to do." - on first taking office in May 2002.
:: "An irresponsible organisation" - on English Heritage after financial problems with Beckenham Place Park's Mansion House in 2007.
:: "Oh, get real... f**king idiots." - to anti-cuts protesters in 2010.
:: "You have to ask why someone would turn up to a council meeting with a flare." - after protesters storm the town hall in December 2010.
:: "Together we can face the hard choices and take this borough through to a better time." - on winning Lewisham's mayoral election in 2010.
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