UKIP councillors are calling for town hall officials to use miles, not kilometres, on signs and documents as a way to “continue being English”.

Newly-elected members of the eurosceptic party’s group on East Sussex County Council made the call at a briefing for novice councillors last week.

After a presentation from Becky Shaw, the local authority’s chief executive, a number of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) members asked her if the council could stop using kilometres as a form of measurement.

They claimed the use of metric instead of imperial units created confusion.

Philip Howson, Ukip leader on the county council, said: “Is this another EU ruling that we use kilometres?

“For clarity I believe miles should be used. The British all understand miles and not kilometres.”

But Labour councillor Jeremy Birch said: “It certainly wasn’t an issue that came up on the doorstep with me.

“Perhaps it shows just how far away Ukip are from the views of the electorate.

“Some may say they are miles away.”

A formal policy to turn Britain metric was started in 1965 but was never fully completed.

It means that pounds, feet and miles are still used alongside the newer “simpler” system of kilograms, metres and kilometres.

Road conversion into metric was due to take place in 1973.

However, following the change of Government in 1970, the conversion programme was put on indefinite hold.

According to the UK Metric |Association, which campaigns on the issue, successive British Governments have slowed down progress by negotiating “opt-outs” with the European Union |from using metric units on road signage.

Ukip councillor Laurence Keeley said a number of his colleagues raised the issue as a way to remind people that the party had a presence on the council.

Coun Keeley said: “It’s a difficult one as in the schools they all teach children in metres and kilometres, not yards and miles.

“If we’re to continue being English then we need to continue with the old measurements.

“If we decide on the two separate measurements then we need to make sure both are used.

“If someone is 9km away I have no idea how far that is.”

At the local elections on May 2, Ukip gained seven out of the 49 seats on the local authority.

It was the party’s first gains in Sussex and helped contribute towards the Conservatives losing overall control of the local authority.