A councillor has criticised "outdated" rules which say that female representatives must be called Mrs or Miss alongside their elected title.

Deneice Florence-Jukes, a Conservative councillor for Horninglow on East Staffordshire Borough Council, has put forward a motion to get rid of an "outdated" rule which is nearly 250 years old.

It states that female councillors must be referred to as councillor Mrs/Miss/Ms, as opposed to men, who must be referenced as councillor.

Councillor Florence-Jukes, who was elected in May, feels that this additional honorific must be disposed of, for the good of equality across the board.

Deneice Florence-Jukes, Conservative East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Horninglow Ward, proposed disposing of the additional titles
Deneice Florence-Jukes, Conservative East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Horninglow Ward

In her bid to achieve this, she has put forward a motion due to be considered at the meeting of the full council on Monday, December 4, to "dispense" with such titles and replace it with the gender neutral 'councillor' for women too.

The full motion, seconded by Liberal Democrat councillor for Burton Helen Hall, reads is as follows:

"That this council resolves to demonstrate a commitment to recognising that all members of this council are equal, irrespective of their gender, by dispensing with the guidance contained in the Debretts publication on forms of address for female councillors by the use of an additional honorific of either mrs or miss and that henceforth all councillors are addressed by the same gender neutral title of councillor followed by first and last names."

Councillor Florence-Jukes says she is not sure if the vote will pass, but feels that having cross-party support for the motion should help its cause.

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She says that some councillors do not see the full impact of the additional title, while some fellow female representatives have said that they "quite like" being called mrs.

She said: "I was elected in May, and two weeks later I attended full council, I was looking through the agenda and noticed that female councillors were referred to as Mrs, Miss or Ms, when male councillors did not have Mr.

"I asked a fellow councillor next to me why this was the case and he just said 'that's just how it has always been'.

"The rule was written by Debretts, which was founded in 1769, and includes publications such as the A-Z of Modern Manners and forms of address.

Helen Hall, Liberal Democrat East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Burton Ward
Helen Hall, Liberal Democrat East Staffordshire borough councillor for the Burton Ward, seconded the motion

"When I read it on the agenda I was surprised, it doesn't appear on the website, just in agendas, but they are in the public too.

"Debretts didn't even realise we were still using it, so I wonder how many other councils are still using it.

"I actually feel like it is more unfair on the male councillors, why am I afforded more respect than them?

"But any way you look at it, it is outdated.

"I have worked in many public sector jobs and I've never seen this before, I didn't see it in the Met Police or the RAF.

"It is just not inclusive, how can we as a borough council say we are equal and offer equal opportunities and then still be doing this?

"I fear that things like this could push members of the public away from running as a councillor.

"I think there may be an amendment put forward to where councillors can be called what they like, but that may prove very complicated.

"As it stands we still do not even have Mx, which is often used in Government publications, and what would happen if we had a transgender councillor? There would be the discussion of whether they should be called Mrs or Mr, instead of councillor.

"There are far wider implications to this, it might seem like a few letters but it is what it represents.

For example, female councillors on October's cabinet meeting were referred to as Mrs
For example, female councillors on October's cabinet meeting were referred to as Mrs

"We have found pictures from more than 100 years ago in which there is a female East Staffordshire councillor, referred to as Mrs, it is just a long-standing rule which is still established and is now totally antiquated and outdated."

Cllr Florence-Jukes worked in the RAF in the 70s through the 80s in air defence and intelligence - playing a part with Cold War efforts.

She also worked in the Met Police until the end of the 90s and was often involved with briefing then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and had stints guarding Downing Street before the gates were put in.

The Horninglow Ward representative served in many roles in the police, including: vice, sexual offences, anti-corruption, and helped set up the first domestic violence branch.

East Staffordshire Borough Council

A spokesperson for East Staffordshire Borough Council said that each councillor can choose their honorific title.

They said: “Each councillor is currently free to choose how they wish to be addressed - and, by way of example, Councillor Florence-Jukes is not referred to by any honorific, in line with her request, but other female councillors have expressly said they wish to be addressed as 'Councillor Mrs'.”