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Leader of North Dorset District Council, Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, has controversially appointed a 23-year-old first elected less than three years ago to the council’s controlling Conservative cabinet, writes Richard Thomas.

Piers Brown, who represents Hill Forts at NDDC but also sits on Shaftesbury Town Council, was appointed on 1 February to the newly-created post of portfolio-holder for access and customer services.

His appointment, which has surprised some of the council’s older and more experienced members, gives him responsibility for seven key areas of North Dorset council including legal and corporate governance, strategic risk management, and customer and information services.

He is believed to be the youngest member ever appointed to the council’s cabinet. Councillor Carr-Jones said he had brought Councillor Brown into the cabinet to ‘share the duties of the executive.’

‘Having trialled a short period of time with five cabinet members, it was clear that with the extra workload of local government reorganisation [in Dorset] on top of cabinet priorities we needed to be back up to full strength.

‘We now have that with six portfolio holders to share the duties of the executive.’

He said he was ‘delighted’ to welcome Councillor Brown to the Cabinet.

‘Piers brings capacity and enthusiasm to the council. He will be a much needed and welcome addition as portfolio holder for access and customer services.’

Councillor Brown went onto social media immediately to tell followers he was ‘really pleased’ at the appointment before it had been formally announced by NDDC.

‘I am looking forward to the challenge especially as we work towards delivering the new [Dorset Rural] unitary council in May 2019,’ he said on his Facebook page.

He was promptly congratulated online by fellow district councillor Alex Chase who represents Gillingham Town at NDDC but now lives in Shaftesbury.

‘Great to see a Shaftesbury town councillor representing the town in the district council,’ Councillor Chase posted on Facebook.

North Dorset Conservatives’ agent Elizabeth Coulson also went onto social media in response to criticism to say ‘Councillor Brown is a Shaftesbury town councillor with the best interests of Shaftesbury at the top of his agenda.’

Mr Brown, who lives in Cann with his mother and stepfather, was first elected to NDDC in 2015 to represent the Hill Forts ward. He was elected to Shaftesbury Town Council at the same time.

In 2017 he stood unsuccessfully for the Conservatives against Liberal Democrat Councillor Derek Beer for the Shaftesbury seat on the county council.

A former head boy of Shaftesbury School, Mr Brown spent a brief period at the University of the West of England in 2012 reading natural geography before dropping out because, he says, he had nothing in common with the other students.

Home in Dorset he went to work for the Christmas decorations franchise his mother Amanda and stepfather David Britton had bought into, based at Dewlish near Dorchester.

The franchise, originally called The Christmas Decorators (Dorset) Ltd, became Festive Installers Ltd in 2016 and Mr Brown, now listed as the firm’s marketing director, is a director with his mother and stepfather.

Piers Brown can be contacted on tel 07511 156811 or email: padbrown@icloud.com.

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