A SAILING club could be forced to close amid fears its annual rent is set to rise from £4,250 to a possible £18,000.

Bosses at Chapman Sands Sailing Club, Eastern Esplanade, Canvey claim they have been asked to cover the increase, which Castle Point Council is putting down to a new rates valuation.

But the clubs’s ruling committee is prepared to fight.

Bill Gosnold, club secretary, said the it has been in operation for more than 60 years.He said: “The current lease expired in September 2017, since then the club has been trying to renew the lease.

“I believe they could not find a similar sailing club to compare the rent to so considered it as a business, with a rent value between £15,000 and £18,000.

“This is the amount that Castle Point Council is considering charging for the use of the land.

“The council incurs no cost for the running of the club they just make money from the club with a lease of £1,062.50 per quarter and the club hires waste bins from the council at a cost of £75.90.

“The club is a community sailing and social club that has been there for 62 years.

“Income for the club comes from membership fees and a club bar with other running cost such as insurance, gas, electricity, water and sewage rates, and other registration fees.”

He added: “The club is just about making enough to keep running. Since I became secretary, my main aim is to increase the sailing especially of young people to keep them doing something that is good.

“I also train them to be safe in the surrounding Canvey waters.

“If we are able to renew the lease we are planning to start a sailing school with support from the Royal Yachting Association.

“This club is run for the community, no profit is made and committee and members contribute to running the club voluntarily.”

Andrew Smith, Castle Point Council’s director for land and assets, said “An independent valuer has been instructed with the agreement of the Sailing Club to assess the rent and provide a valuation report.

“The council will be guided by the valuation of the rent as assessed by the independent valuer and ongoing negotiations are taking place with the club in relation to the renewal of the lease.”

He added: “It is too early to say what the outcome from these negotiations will be but any decision to close the club will be a decision which is made by the club secretary and the governing committee.”