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    'Time for People Power to Kick In': UK's Canvey Island Bids for Independence

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    Inspired by Catalonia's bid for independence a tiny island is now seeking to follow suit by breaking away from Britain.

    While the name itself might conjure up romantic images, many would probably struggle, however, to find Canvey Island on a map as it is only seven square miles in size. 

    Home to around 38,000 residents, independent counselors on Canvey Island are desperately seeking to ditch Britain — and run their own affairs having become frustrated by decisions being taken by the mainland.

    #oldleigh by the Peterboat

    A post shared by Canvey Island Online (@canveyislandonline) on Oct 11, 2017 at 1:12am PDT

    Dave Blackwell, one of 15 independent counselors on Canvey Island, admits to being inspired by events in Spain, hoping such a move can now be replicated closer to home.

    "It is time for us to start a move for proper independence as we are becoming frustrated at being told what to do by decisions taken on the mainland," Mr. Blackwell told Sputnik.

    "Like the people of Catalonia we must take things back into our own hands, Canvey Island has previously been independent and that's the way it should be. We need our own voice to determine our own future even if that means breaking away. We are being ruled by decisions taken by Castle Point Borough Council and we no longer want that," he added.

    A public meeting has already been held on the island where plans were drawn up to organize a petition among the islanders to present their case for independence to the Boundaries Commission.

    "It is time for people power to kick in and demand what is right for Canvey Island instead of being told how many houses will be built there — often going against the wishes of the locals. We should have a bigger say in our own future and it is time that this aim is respected," Mr. Blackwell said.

    "Previously we have been ridiculed by the main political parties, but there are now 16 independent counselors out of a total of 17 counselors on Canvey Island, yet we are overruled by the mainland where there are an additional 26 counselors that make up Castle Point. Yet Castle Point doesn't actually exist on the map it is a figment of the British government's imagination.

     

    View from Canvey Heights #canveyisland #scenic

    A post shared by Canvey Island Online (@canveyislandonline) on Oct 11, 2017 at 8:40am PDT

    "Canvey islanders are proud people, we have an east end mentality. When it came to the Brexit vote we also recorded the second highest number of people wanting to leave the EU. We don't want to be told what to do by the mainland any more and increasingly this is happening. Our voice simply isn't being heard and that must change," he said.

    'Shotgun Wedding' for the Cinderella Disctrict

    George Whatley — who led a long-running campaign to block the expansion of oil and gas refineries there — insisted the existing local government arrangement was born out of a "shotgun wedding" that resulted in the Conservatives seizing power despite the island voting for a majority of independent counselors.

    Calor Gas Ltd. tank farm, Canvey Island
    Calor Gas Ltd. tank farm, Canvey Island

    "Castle Point council is run by the Conservatives and they have systematically treated Canvey as the Cinderella district for years. People here are fed up with what historically seems to be unfair planning decisions and a general lack of investment in infrastructure of the island," Mr. Whatley said.

    "Being independent is nothing new — we considered a unilateral declaration for independence in the oil refinery fight in the 1970s and 80s," Mr. Whatley added.

    Canvey Island tanker Inyala and DP port
    Canvey Island tanker Inyala and DP port

    'Never Going to Happen'

    Veteran Tory counselor Ray Howard said, however, they need to live in the real world.

    "It is never going to happen no matter how much campaigning they do. They need to live in the real world," Mr. Howard told Sputnik.

    "As far as I can see, and I have been a counselor for nearly 50 years, there is probably going to be another major re-organisation of local government in Britain and Castle Point Borough Council will then be swallowed up by an even bigger authority. 

    "Whether they like it or not, Canvey Island and Castle Point will no longer be sustainable as larger authorities become the norm as a result of IT and automated systems bringing greater benefits that will help ease the public purse. So talk of independence is just nonsense in my view.

    "It is wrong to give people false hopes as they will only be left disappointed," Mr. Howard said.

    The island — which sits below sea level in the Thames estuary — is protected by 14 miles of high sea walls and, historically, was once under the influence of the Dutch many centuries ago.

    Boasting its own mysterious monster whose carcass was washed up on the shore in 1953, and again, the following year, it is also visited regularly by a six-feet tall Viking ghost complete with hipster beard and moustache.

    Linked to the mainland by two roads, Canvey Island was once the fastest growing seaside town in Britain, although 59 people lost their lives in 1953, when a giant tidal surge hit the east coast and forced a rapid evacuation from it.

    Related:

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    Catalonia's Shadow: Why Two Italian Regions Seek Autonomy Referendums
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    Catalan Parties Call for EU Mediation in Independence Referendum Crisis
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    separatism, autonomy, referendum, independence referendum, independence, 2017 Catalan independence referendum, Canvey Island, Britain, United Kingdom, London
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