SAILING club bosses say they will do everything in their power to fight an eviction notice after failing to agree new rent fees with landlord Castle Point Council.

The authority has written to Chapman Sands Sailing Club, in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, stating the club has 28 days to vacate the premises.

The club says, as part of a rates re-evaluation, the council is asking for more than £15,000-a-year in rent, which it cannot afford.

Bill Gosnold, club secretary said: “A few years ago someone from the council came and told us they didn’t want us to keep going as they wanted to build flats at the site, so I don’t know what is going on.

“I am a bit angry about what the council is doing.

“I feel like the council is destroying a community by forcing our club to close.

“We want to secure a 21 year lease so we can help train children to sail and be safe on the water.”

He added: “If we cannot fight this we will just have to fold as there will be no where else for us to go.

“It’s a pretty sad state of affairs. It costs the council nothing for us to operate.”

The irate 78-year-old added: “I think what the council is doing is so bad. They are valuing the site as a business but we are a community sailing club and don’t make any money.

“We have 74 members and they are not very happy with what the council is doing.

“I know there was a petition which got quite a lot of support and about 750 signatures.”

Mr Gosnold said it is not possible for the club to leave the site within 28 days as there is too much to organise, including the removal of members’ boats.

He said: “We have not got the money to pay for legal fees to fight this.

“I am speaking with the Royal Yachting Association to get its guidance and advice on what we can do next.

“We are defiantly prepared to fight this and will be doing everything in our power to stop this. We are not going to back down over this and have not got any plans to leave the site.”

Andrew Smith, a solicitor acting for the council, said: “It is correct that the council has sent the letter as the council was unable to grant a new lease to the sailing club as the club cannot afford to pay the new rent as assessed by the valuer.

“The council must achieve a fair market rent or it means that the tenant is occupying the premises at an undervalue and that the council is not protecting the public purse.”