FURIOUS fitness lovers have blasted a council for scrapping concessionary rates for the over-fifties.

They used to benefit from cheaper rates to use the facilities at Waterside Farm in Somnes Avenue, Canvey, but now face having to pay double, under changes being brought in by Castle Point Council.

People aged over 50 pay £17.50 a month for a Senior Gold Pass membership, which includes off peak use of the fitness studio, swimming pool, over-fifties classes, badminton and table tennis facilities.

From August, members over the age of 50 have been told they will have to pay £25 a month for an off-peak five-day membership, or £35 a month for an unlimited membership. Mick Kelly, 70, of Tilburg Road, Canvey said: “I am absolutely incensed by this.

“They say they want to promote a healthy lifestyle for older people, but then they do this which will take things in the completely opposite direction.

“A lot of people will struggle to be able to pay to go now.

“I rang the council and they said simply old people are viewed differently today and can afford it, so don’t need concessions, which is disgraceful.”

Silvia Dry, 76, of Waverley Road, Benfleet, said she has ended her membership because of the price hikes. She said: “My husband and I have been going to Waterside for donkeys’ years, since it first opened, and it’s got so popular since they introduced these reduced rates.

“We go twice a week and it’s a great way to socialise as well as keeping fit, which is so important as you get older.

“But, to be honest, it’s getting beyond what we can afford now and a lot of people are upset.”

Peter Bawol, 65, of Castle Lane, Hadleigh, said: “It is outrageous really. The clubs provide a good means of socialising, particularly for those who are a bit lonely, and my health has really improved since joining. Some of the people there I have known for 15 years, but if the costs go up I’m just going to start going elsewhere.”

Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Indenpedent Party, said: “This is outrageous. We should be doing everything we can to encourage people over 50 to get fit, not putting them off by raising our rates.

“Everything is going up at the moment, the car parks, the leisure centre, people can’t afford it.”

The charges will come in as a £5million revamp of Waterside Farm is completed in August.