Lewisham Council’s departing boss Ian Thomas has landed a new post as Kingston Council’s chief executive.

This comes just six weeks after Lewisham Council announced he would be stepping down with the council taking a “new direction.”

Mr Thomas is in Lewisham Council’s employment and pay until December 31, on a salary of £185,000.

Executive director for resources and regeneration Janet Senior is currently acting under “delegated authority” as chief executive, and will serve as interim director until a new chief executive is found after December 31.

Mr Thomas’s departure has caused concern in the community, with the public gallery at the last full council meeting ejected after a group of residents began yelling, including chants of “Ian Thomas.”

A petition calling for more information about his departure has reached more than 2,000 signatures.

Mr Thomas has more than 30 years’ local government experience, and is well-respected through his work at Rotherham Council following a child sex abuse scandal.

He has held senior leadership positions at Derbyshire County and Trafford Metropolitan councils and has an “ability to unite communities and form strategic partnerships,” according to a Kingston Council statement. 

Kingston Council leader, Cllr Liz Green, said Mr Thomas’ expertise, particularly in children’s services, landed him the role.

Read more: Lewisham Council costs for replacing Ian Thomas 'could be higher' than reported

Mr Thomas serves as Lewisham Council’s chief executive from March with seven of the nine councillors and council staff on the appointments panel part of the present administration, including Mayor Damien Egan and members of his cabinet Cllr Brenda Dacres, Cllr Amanda de Ryk and Cllr Kevin Bonavia.

Former Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and former Lewisham Green party councillor John Coughlin were also on the panel.

Ms Senior served as interim chief executive last year.