A SAILING club has been locked out of the site it has used for half a century after Castle Point Council changed the locks.

Chapman Sands Sailing Club has been running for 52 years, but has been kicked out of its home on Eastern Esplanade, Canvey.

C 78-year-old club secretary Bill Gosnold, 78, claimed they were paid up to December 21 and said the council wanted to increase rent from £4,250 to £18,000 under any new lease.

He said: “I got a call from a neighbour on Tuesday morning who said people were going into the building.

“A council surveyor told me the council was repossessing the property and changing the locks. I told him we had paid our rent until December 21, but he said that wasn’t anything to do with him.

“The council could have been more reasonable with us, especially as we’ve here since 1967.

“It’s part of the island history, but nobody seems interested in history any more.

“I am not surprised about what the council has done, it seems like that’s the way the council is run.”

Mr Gosnold said the club’s 74 members will now need to find other sailing organisations, adding: “It’s the end of an era and we feel we’ve had not support from the council.”

A petition was started to save the club, with a total of 369 people signing it.

Mr Gosnold said he believes the council 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.

A spokesman for Castle Point Council said: “The lease to the Chapman Sands Yacht Club has ended. The council as land owner has taken action and secured the the site.”