A FAMILY run gym faces paying £2,500 a year to use a public green space on Canvey for boot camp sessions that help the community get into shape.

David Rowe, 46, owner and manager of Fitness 4 Life, in Oak Road, is happy to cooperate with Castle Point Council and pay a fee, but cannot afford such a huge amount of cash on top of other costs such as business rates.

Mr Rowe runs a boot camp at Labworth Green, in Furtherwick Road, as part of the gym’s programme of activities.

His instructors only use it once a week in winter, but about three times a week in summer months so a £25 fee per session, as suggested by the council, would lead to a hefty bill.

He contacted the Echo after seeing a story about Southend Council proposing to charge similar businesses and instructors £150 a year to use its public parks.

He said: “We are respectful of the area, we always clear up afterwards and before we start we regularly clear the field of broken glass and dog mess.

“We don’t make a lot of money on the bootcamps once we’ve covered our costs. It’s such a crying shame, whatever you do there is always something in the way.

“I felt physically sick after reading the other story though, I wouldn’t have a problem paying £150.”

Mr Rowe set up the business three years ago after having life-saving heart surgery and wanted to get into the fitness industry to help others see that changes can be made to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

The business has now expanded to carry out a doctor referral service and Mr Rowe added he has public liability insurance, his instructors are fully qualified and weekly risk assessments are carried out at the site.

He said: “Everything we do is above board.

“When we were contacted by the council I panicked, we can’t afford to pay that kind of money, but we could pay a fixed fee for the year.

“I don’t agree with it, but I’m a businessman and will work with the council.”

Mr Rowe said he has offered to pay £500 for the year, giving the council £125 per quarter, but he is not confident that will be agreed.

A Castle Point Council spokeswoman said: “Castle Point Council is in discussion with Fitness for Life concerning the use of council owned land.

“The council has yet to see evidence of the business’ public liability insurance. The council has indicated that we would be prepared to negotiate a fee for the use of our land and is waiting to hear from Fitness for Life with their proposal.”