A NEW nature conservation scheme at a park has come under fire with complaints the grass is too long for footballers and dog walkers.

Southend Council set up the biodiversity project at Oakwood Park, Eastwood, at the start of August to encourage wildlife.

However, it has meant grass cutting is kept to a minimum.

Now park users have complained about the “unacceptable lengths” the grass has grown to, saying dogs have picked up tics and balls get lost.

They say it is also difficult to run around for sports games.

Edward Hamilton, whose house backs onto the park, said: “People are just annoyed. Oakwood Park was a football park for both adults and youngsters, they used to play five-a-side there. Now, the kids can’t run around.

“When taking my dog over there and letting him off the lead, balls get lost.”

Mr Hamilton has urged councillors to make changes but claims he has had no reply.

Mr Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth, added: “It seems to be distressing to all walkers. The park is so unkept that all the muck from the grass gets brought into the house.”

Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “We are committed to providing a greener future, and protecting and enhancing the natural environment. As part of that we are working to increase levels of flora and fauna across our parks and open spaces.

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“Oakwood Park is part of an ongoing trial naturalisation project to support this aim which is set out in our pollination strategy, which looks to provide an improved eco-system for plants and wildlife.

“As part of the project we are maintaining areas of longer grass, short cut areas for recreation and mown paths around and through the park. Reducing mowing allows native plants to flower which provides nectar for bees and other insects. The areas of longer grass meadow will be cut and collected in the autumn. This approach helps to encourage the development of flowering species which are so important to our wildlife.

“We have been carefully monitoring the feedback from the park users, as well as seeing how nature responds. We have received both positive and negative feedback about the project and we are currently reviewing this to see if any changes are required. It is likely a wider consultation exercise will be undertaken.”