FRUSTRATED villagers are calling for an overgrown park to be cut back so children can play there – but a council has designated it a wildflower meadow.

Residents in Fir Tree said Pea Hill Park has been neglected by Durham County Council with large patches of long grasses and flowers being left to grow.

The council has mown parts of the park, which was opened in 2011 by botanist David Bellamy, and said the uncut areas are a wildflower meadow.

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Stephanie Foster, whose two children play at the park, said: “There is an area at the bottom of the park designated for wildflowers which we are fine with.

“But there are areas in the middle which are where children like to play, and they simply cannot go there because the grass has been left to grow.

“The village wants a place for our children to play, not the mess that we have got.”

Mrs Foster said dog owners are unable to clean up after their pets in the long grasses with the left faeces making the area a hazard for children.

More than 20 residents of all ages met The Northern Echo to express their frustration with the park’s current state.

One neighbouring landowner said seeds from the unwanted flowers have blown into his field with the pollen polluting his grasses.

He said: “I will have to spend a lot of money to clear that field of these unwanted plants.

“It is a mess, and it does feel that Fir Tree is a forgotten village.”

Pea Hill Park was built on top of a former pit heap and underwent a £110,000 makeover two years ago to make it a pleasant place for villagers.

Jeff Talbot, clean and green manager at the council, said: “This area of Fir Tree is beautiful, being surrounded by trees and woodland and is home to one of the best wildflower areas we have in County Durham.

“We need these natural meadows and have an obligation to preserve them.

“We already cut around the paths and clear a section at the bottom for the children to play.

“Following a meeting with one of the residents last week, we have agreed to a compromise and will now also cut an area at the top of the bank for children to play.”