COUNCIL bosses are threatening to evict a popular sailing club, founded in 1957, amid claims of a 400% annual rent hike.

Disgusted managers at Chapman Sands Sailing Club, in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, say Castle Point Council is imposing an increase from £4,250 a year, to a possible £18,000.

A petition has now been started to save the club, which hundreds of people have already signed.

The club has shown the Echo a letter from the council stating it will not back down.

Bill Gosnold, 77, club secretary, said: “It appears the council is unwilling to negotiate and will be asking the club to vacate the premises if we do not pay the rent they are asking.

“I will be writing to our MP and councillors. The club is not in a financial position to fight in court.

“It is a little worrying the Government and councils are on about rebuilding communities, then they close community facilities.” In a letter to the club, seen by the Echo, the council said: “If the council and the sailing club are unable to conclude the negotiations then it will be necessary for the sailing club to vacate the premises and if this is the decision of the club I would be obliged if you would inform myself or the legal officer after the proper consideration of the contents to this letter.”

Frances Pack, 70, of Long Road, Canvey said: “It doesn’t make sense to me.

“We don’t have another facility like this for these people to go to on Canvey.”

Now, Shelley Maskell, 30 of Delfzul Road, Canvey has started a petition against the council’s price hike.

She said: “Chapman Sands Sailing club is a family-orientated sailing club that has been on the island for many years.

“It has given many happy memories to many families on Canvey.

“We feel it will be sadly missed by the community if it closes as proposed due to the massive increase in price that the council has demanded going forward.

“My family have been involved in this club for more than 18 years and I now take my children there as it is a safe environment for us to socialise and for the children to have fun.”

A total of 369 people have signed the petition.

The council was contacted for comment, but said it would not be able to.

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