A NEW job has been advertised in Blackburn with a salary twice the East Lancashire average, your own country house and car, good promotion opportunities and a personal set of work clothes.

The downsides include compulsory Sunday working, no Christmas or Easter holidays, early morning starts, and having to wear flowing vestments.

Next month the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron will be appointing a new a new leader of Lancashire’s 975,000 Anglican worshippers and ninth Bishop of Blackburn.

The ideal candidate will be a middle aged male (the Church having just ruled women out of the running) with a settled family life, grown-up children, a taste for extravagant, highly-coloured clothing, as well as a deeply religious Christian with a sense of humility.

The process to appoint a successor to the Rt Rev Nicolas Reade is well under way with the committee to advise Her Majesty and Mr Cameron now set up and a job specification published.

The job brings particular challenges in a multi-faith town with many ethnic groups and as well as a history of speaking out on problems of wealth, greed, crime and deprivation and a requirement to have views on issues as controversial as gay marriage, gay priests, women Bishops and faith-based education.

The £40,000 annual salary is more than double the county average of £19,500 and carries with a spacious country residence (or ‘Palace’) in the Ribble Valley, a car (currently a VW Passat), several sets of vestments (including one specially tailored for you alone) and the chance to design and commission your own Shepherds Crook (or ‘Crozier’) to guide your steadily decreasing flock to church.

There is also the chance to sit in the House of Lords or be promoted to a posher Diocese elsewhere in the UK.

Weekend, Christmas and Easter working is compulsory but job security is good.