EASTLEIGH councillors will be honoured for their service to residents.

Eastleigh Borough Council is to bring back the title of ‘alderman’, recognising long-serving councillors and ex-councillors.

The issue provoked much debate among councillors who spoke for more than an hour about how such a scheme would work, whether they wanted it and whether it was appropriate to call female councillors ‘alderwomen’.

A motion was brought before the council by Cllr Rupert Kyrle and was brought to full council so all councillors could give their opinion.

While some councillors at the full council meeting argued that 12 years as proposed was an appropriate length of time, others thought 16 or even 20 years the best benchmark.

While some councillors said the award should be judged on achievements rather than time, but others disagreed saying that this could end up making the awarding of such accolades political.

Cllr Daniel Clarke said that to value the title based on years was not correct and that it should be decided on “quality of service rather than quantity of years”.

But Cllr David Airey said: “If we’re going to do it it should be on straight lines of service so there’s no favouritism.”

The title has not been used in Eastleigh for at least 30 years though it is used at Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council.

But some did not like the idea of awards at all.

Cllr Judith Grajewski said she did not become a councillor to get awards but to serve the community and that the title alderwoman was patronising.

Cllr David Airey said: “I don’t see why we’re spending time discussing it.

“It could become political. I’d rather we carry on as we are.”

But a majority of councillors approved the measure, which will recognise 12 or more years’ service.

The council will now look back through the records and councillors will be written to.

If they accept they would receive a pin badge and certificate.

This could be awarded at the annual mayor making ceremony.

The honour would not be awarded posthumously and would only be given on the understanding that the person no longer intended to stand for election, though they could still serve on town and parish councils.