Brent Council slammed over £30k ‘Downton Abbey’ job

Brent mayor Cllr Lesley Jones, left, and Jim Carter who starred as a butler in Downton Abbey

Brent mayor Cllr Lesley Jones, left, and Jim Carter who starred as a butler in Downton Abbey - Credit: Archant

Brent Council has been criticised for advertising for a £30,000-a-year chauffer who must be able to polish silverware while there will be £95million worth of cuts across the board.

The role for an official driver for the mayor of Brent comes as the town hall warned residents they face an increase in their council tax bills and they may have to pay for previously free services.

In addition to being able to polish silver items, the successful applicant will also be responsible for looking after the mayor’s robe, cleaning plates and cutlery, keep the official vehicle clean and tidy and perform maintenance checks.

Sujata Aurora, of Brent Fightback, a campaign group against cuts, compared the role to one found in Downton Abbey, the hit ITV drama which finally aired on Christmas Day after four years on our screens.

She said: “This money would be better spent on a social worker. It seems that councillors are implementing austerity on residents while maintaining their own grandeur.

“I’m not sure why the mayor needs a chauffeur (and a dresser) - this is Brent not Downton Abbey.”

The role will also include being the mace bearer for Cllr Lesley Jones MBE, the current mayor, and deputy mayor Cllr Parvez Ahmed.

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All applicants needed a clean current driving licence and an ability to read maps and find appropriate parking spaces.

Alison Hopkins, a former Liberal Democrat councillor for Dollis Hill, said: “We campaigned to have the whole mayor’s office abolished because it costs something near £300,000 a year to raise £30,000 for charity and it is ridiculous.

“At a time when we’re having to make massive cuts spending £300,000 on the office of a mayor is absurd.

“The whole thing is an absolute absurdity.”

A spokesman for Brent Council said: “In common with councils across the country, Brent maintains the office of a civic mayor. The mayor of Brent is the Borough’s first citizen and rises above the party political fray for their year in office. The office of mayor is hugely valued by the people of Brent. The mayor carries out a vast array of charitable and community engagements, raising money for good causes and meeting thousands of local people, in addition to acting as an ambassador for the borough.

“This role provides essential support for the mayor.”

A spokesman for Brent Council has asked the Times to point out the job pays between £24,743 rising to £26,276 although on public documents it is advertised as being from £25,000 to £29,999.

The spokesman also denies the mayor’s office costs £300,000 as claimed by Alison Hopkins saying it amounts to less than £90,000.

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