Published: 06:00, 21 September 2021
| Updated: 15:57, 21 September 2021
Why is the Isle of Sheppey so often treated with ridicule across Kent and used as an insult?
Seasalter resident, David Stewart told a planning committee he feared his village was "now becoming Sheppey" when Alberta Holiday Park bosses applied for 91 more caravans.
"If you go through Sheppey, there's not a lot there," he said.
But (almost) life-long Island resident and reporter John Nurden has hit back. He said: "Derogatory remarks like this are all too common about the Island.
"People are totally misguided. These comments are often made by people ignorant of what Kent's own holiday Island has to offer.
"True, the Island has a wide range of holiday homes ranging from affordable caravans to much sought-after shepherds' huts on Elmley's beautiful nature reserve.
"Yes, some holidaymakers can be tiresome but they also bring much-needed money to the economy.
"But Sheppey's secret is that it has much more to give than kiss-me-quick hats and candyfloss.
"For a start, it has three award-winning beaches at Sheerness, Minster and Leysdown (plenty of sand, there, and no pollution) plus wonderful cliff-top walks and the chance to stumble upon world-class fossils on the seashore."
He pointed out the Island is steeped in history. "It was the birthplace of British aviation where the first aircraft factory was built and Sir Winston Churchill learned to fly.
"Sheerness Royal Dockyard, now a thriving commercial port, was where Nelson first went to sea and where his body was brought ashore in a barrel of brandy after the Battle of Trafalgar.
"Diarist Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens both spent time on Sheppey - dubbed the Isle of Sheep by the Romans - writing about it or using it for inspiration."
Historic Queenborough, he added, boasts a "quaint working harbour" and is home to Kent's top pub, the quirky Admiral's Arm. Artist JMW Turner loved the sunsets there which was where he painted the Fighting Temeraire.
He went on: "Blue Town features the restored Criterion music hall theatre, one of Kent's hidden gems, with three floors packed with some of the Island's most fascinating heritage."
One couple from Tunbridge Wells turned up at the theatre recently and were astounded at what the Island had to offer.
Theatre boss Jenny Hurkett said: "They had agreed to spend the weekend on Sheppey for a dare. But they ended up loving it. They said they had no idea what was here."
Mr Nurden added: "Don't forget Sheppey has its own bomb ship wreck as a rather weird tourist attraction.
"If only Seasalter could offer half as much..."