COUNCIL officers will now be referred to as 'staff', in a move one councillor called 'derogatory'.

The decision on the name change was passed by the Isle of Wight Council last night (Wednesday).

The change is designed to make things more understandable to the public by changing constitutional references from 'members' to 'councillors' and 'officers' becoming 'staff'.

Speaking about the name changes, council leader Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox said it was their mission to use language easily understood by residents and was not 'local government speak'.

She said: "This is not undermining our staff, far from it. It is making clear the differences and was very welcomed by our local and national, union representatives."

Cllr Vanessa Churchman opposed the change and said for an open and transparent council they were not doing so well with the lack of consultation of officers around the change,

She said: "Councillors are here to set the strategy and how a council is run. It is up to the chief executive to hire, fire and name his staff."

Cllr Paul Brading said he agreed the public should be able to understand titles but he could not support the change as it was derogatory and wrong.

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox said it was not about disrespecting staff but listening to the public, and the term 'staff' was already used in the council's service charter.

Cllr Michael Lilley said the change was not taking away status or roles of individuals, it was just a descriptive word.

He said: "Many council staff are teachers, cleaner operatives, gardeners, as well as being a planning officer.

"We do need to have inclusivity and equality."

This was among 14 other proposals, including changing times and duration of meetings, questions allowed by the Youth Council and voting rights restored to the Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils.

Talking about the new proposals, said to have been requested by the public, Cllr Peacey-Wilcox said it was to help reintroduce democracy to the council which had been seriously eroded after the last four years by a Conservative administration 'that seemed fearful of challenge'.

Cllr Peacey-Wilcox said these proposals, based on the four cornerstones of the new administration - democracy, transparency, openness and accountability - were just the start with further changes likely to be introduced in the next four years.

She said: "We know there are more important issues but we are representing the views of others."