SAILING club volunteers say they are “gutted” after being given an eviction notice by council bosses.

Members of Maldon Yacht Club, which was established in 1949, are in shock after Maldon District Council confirmed a formal notice was handed out which would force them to move from their base at the end of Promenade Park.

The notice period was initially six months, but now a year-long renewal has been offered for further discussions.

Long-serving volunteer Derek Beadel, 70, of King Street, Maldon, has been working with the club for more than 40 years.

He said members were shocked when they got the news.

Mr Beadel said: “About six weeks ago, we were given the notice to move out in six months.

“This comes after we had spent so much money renovating the club.

“The land we’re on is just a bit of reclaimed saltings basically.

“The council basically just forgot about us.

“But to now be told to get out doesn’t feel good.

“They want to turn the place into beach huts.”

Mr Beadel has raised the issue with Maldon MP John Whittingdale.

Mr Beadel added: “We’re trying to get a campaign together to see what we can do. We’re going to keep fighting.

“We feel like we’re a real plus for the town.

“You would have thought you had rights after 70 years in the town.

“The worst-case scenario would be that we would have to move our club out to somewhere like Maylandsea, but who would be able to get to us?

“Some members don’t drive.

“We have got some members here who can’t sleep at night because of this.

“We feel like we’ve been sold down the river.”

In a statement, Maldon Yacht Club added: “We are extremely disappointed with the Maldon District Council’s decision to terminate our sailing club lease.

“This was totally unexpected and also contrary to previous discussions held between the two parties.

“The club was founded in the town 1949 and has been at its present location at the end of the prom since 1978.

“We are considering our position regarding the notice and the committee and the council will have further meetings in order to come to a mutually agreeable solution.”

Maldon District Council has responded to the concerns of yacht club members and assures the club it will be part of its vision.

Director of service delivery Richard Holmes said: “The council has met with Maldon Yacht Club and given formal notice to the club that it requires the site to be returned at the end of the current lease.

“The council recognises the value of this members’ club to the local community, however with Promenade Park welcoming a growing number of visitors each year, the council now wishes to move forward with its long-term vision for the park.

“The council has offered a one-year renewal to allow discussion to take place about the future of the club, and officers and club representatives are now in discussion to explore options to see if it is possible to find a solution which allows the club to continue operating from Promenade Park.”