The council came under fire last night for neglecting an inner city community while vowing to spend millions on a park less than half a mile away.

Families from Highgate said they were disgusted at the local authority for failing to renovate their local park despite announcing plans for a £12 million flagship scheme nearby at Eastside.

At an emergency meeting in Highgate last night, the community group Birmingham Citizens said their park had become a waste ground used only by drug dealers.

They called on the city to rid the area of graffiti and renovate the park for the local community to use.

Residents also condemned local councillors who failed to attend the gathering at St Anne's Club in Alcester Street.

Rev Ken Thorson, of St Anne's Catholic Church, said: "We are hoping to get the city council to take responsibility for the public space in our area. The park is in such a state of repair for many people who want to use it. When we saw proposals to spend £12 million on a non-existent park we thought there was a huge problem here."

Tonie Fox, who has lived in Highgate for 40 years, described how the park had changed. "It has gone from a beautiful park to a dumping ground, a waste land which is badly equipped and Birmingham City Council has ignored it. It used to have swings and roundabouts until the council took them away. It had a beautiful bowling green - the best in Birmingham and tennis courts.

"There was also a beautiful hedge, which was about 100 years old, but that was removed by the council to try and get rid of drug dealers."

The residents are calling for a play area, basketball and football pitch and jogging track to be installed in the park. A spokesman for the District Director Jacqueline Branch said she would meet with residents to try and address their concerns.

Inspector Tim Bacon said high visibility patrols were already taking place in the area to try and clampdown on drug dealers and anti social behaviour.