Dacres wins Lewisham vote and becomes UK’s first black woman to be directly-elected mayor

Brenda Dacres acceptance speech. Pic: Lewisham Council

Labour councillor Brenda Dacres has been elected Mayor of Lewisham. Announced during the early hours of International Womens Day, Dacres’ victory made her the first black woman to win a directly elected mayoral role in the UK. 

Dacres went to social media to thank the people of Lewisham for: “Placing their faith in me. Serving this special borough that I have the privilege to call home is the greatest honour of my life. I pledge to work tirelessly for you, and will always have your best interests at heart.” 

In her acceptance speech, Dacres talked about her parents coming to the UK as part of the Windrush generation, and that they could never imagine their daughter becoming “the first black women directly elected mayor.” 

Dacres has been acting mayor since Damien Egan stepped down earlier this to stand for Labour in the by-election in Kingswood, Bristol, which he won last month.

Dacres was expected to win, given Lewisham Council’s dominance by Labour and polled 21.576 votes – a 51.5 per cent share. The turnout was just 20.74 per cent and Michael Herron, standing for the Green Party, came in distant second with 6.835 votes. 

The Liberal Democrats candidate, Chris Maines came third with 4.896 votes, closely followed by Siama Qadar the local Conservative candidate in fourth with 3.784 votes 

Workers Party of Britain represented by John Hamilton came fifth with 2.378 votes, Maureen Martin for the Christian Peoples Alliance received 1.233 votes in sixth while Nick Long, an independent, came last with 917 votes. 

Having served as a councillor, cabinet member and Deputy Mayor for the past 10 years, Dacres said during the election campaign: “I’ve spent a lifetime fighting against low expectations. I didn’t accept them for me, and I’ll never accept them for Lewisham” 

Earlier, Eastlondonlines spoke to voters to hear their thoughts on who they think should be the next Mayor of Lewisham. 

Nicola Curtis, 46, said: “I’m voting Green today because I worry about Lewisham as a county, particularly the recycling is shocking around here, and I feel like our policies need to be respected a little more in terms of keeping our planet safe”. 

Although she also voted for The Green Party, Arin Hewitt-Symonds, 19, thought Labour would take the win. She said: “statistically it’s very unlikely that it would be anyone else. Labour would probably win because they got Lewisham already and they’ll get re-elected” 

While Chris Hoyte, 57, also believed Labour would win the by-election, he said: “Just not the conservatives, end of story.”  

Jennifer Cardenas, 30, hoped Labour would take the win. She said: “I’ve always grown up with the idea that Labour could do amazing things for us residents. Our family thinks they are better than the rest.” 

Lewisham is one of five London boroughs where residents elect a mayor to lead the council, rather than having councillors elect a leader.  

The low turnout could be a result of residents being unaware of the election, while it could also have been overshadowed by the budget the week. Dacres told The Greenwich Wire: “We’ve been knocking on doors today and people were saying ‘I forgot there was an election today, thanks for reminding me’.” 

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