Since having another dog (Millie a 18 month old Retriever) I have become a more regular visitor to Hillfield Park, which for the reader who does not know the area, is off Monkspath Hall Road.
The park is essentially on top of landfill (being near the old Monkspath tip) and has developed as the Monkspath development has developed in the last 30 years; I have lived here for that long. Last year (2012) the park attained a Green Flag status and retained it this year. More information about how parks attain a green flag award can be found on this website: http://greenflag.keepbritaintidy.org/
The park became a nature reserve a few years ago and regular visitors will see there are areas that are left to grow in order to allow wild grasses to seed and encourage insects and other wild life. The fruits of this work has seen the park really develop. It is not just an area of mowed grass where football teams hire pitches during the winter season; there is real evidence of nature being given a helping hand. In fact, on a recent visit with the Councils ecology officer I was shown some Common Spotted Orchids which had naturalised and the even rarer Bee Orchid. Both wild flowers are shown in the gallery/slide show.
One of the regular ‘problems’ is the pools of water that accumulate following rain. These pools do not drain quickly and some turn to mud. The reason for this is what lies underneath and no matter how much the council might spend on tackling them the issue will not go away. Therefore the management strategy is to mitigate them as much as possible. I have shown one of the areas in the photo gallery. It is this one, and a nearby one, that we hope to line with gravel (after preparing the ground), fill with top soil then plant wild flowers/seeds, creating a more colourful wild flower area. We will also plant some poppies – this will be great especially as 2014 is the centenary of the start of World war One. It is also planned to undertake work on the stretch of footpath (near to the Field House Pub area), to raise the level so that the dip (formed through subsidence) can be repaired.
Is the park super? Is it well used? Does it have occasional litter and dog mess? Do some people misuse the park? Yes to all these questions. However, as a long time resident of Monkspath I have seen the park become a far nicer park. It is regularly mowed by our partner/contractors and litter is collected. It is a fact of life that some people leave litter and I have spoken to our parks team to send a message to football clubs who book the parks football pitches to ensure their players/spectators take any rubbish away with them. I will monitor this in the coming football season. One thing I am pleased about is the few incidents of dog fouling I have seen. I do actually look for this when I take my dog to the park so that I can monitor the extent of the problem.
For several years there has been a Park Users Group that met under the chairmanship of an officer from Solihull Council. However, at the last meeting it was widely agreed that a more formal organisation be created. This is being arranged, with the help of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, and at the next meeting, in September, we hope to move things forward. I will update residents following this meeting.