Norman Ball tirelessly rakes together the piles of rubbish floating in a moat at playing fields in a Birmingham suburb.

Meanwhile, less than two miles away, a handful of diggers are scraping out the lake at Handsworth Park.

Mr Ball is on a one-man mission to clear up Perry Hall's ancient moat after, he claims, being refused help by Birmingham City Council. The local authority is, meanwhile, spending £8.4 million tidying up Handsworth Park.

"I ask them for help and I always get the same reply 'We haven't got any money'. But what makes me angry is that over the road you have got this multi-million renovation at Handsworth Park," said Mr Ball. "They get that money because it is classed as a deprived area and this is a nice area so we don't get any money."

The retired milkman has been given £500, but not from the local authority. He received it after applying for his own funding from SITA Environmental Trust.

He began his mission to clean up the moat at Perry Hall playing fields after concerns it would be filled in.

"Two to three years ago it was full up with rubbish and I thought the council might fill it in. I asked the park if they had anybody to deal with it but they said they didn't. I got so mad I jumped in and started raking all the rubbish out," he said.

"A moat has been here since the Domesday Book and there was also a lovely Jacobeanstyle moat house which was given to the council, but it was razed to the ground.

"It was a beautiful, turn-ofthe-century building and was used in the war as a hospital.

"Sometimes, I go out two to three times a week and it was hard going to begin with. I want to make it look nice and plant reed beds and lilies. People are walking around the site. I want to start making islands for birds and put up bird feeders and maybe a few benches."

Despite his enthusiasm, Mr Ball said he hurt at the apparent lack of support for his efforts.

"Handsworth Park got a big grant and they dredged that with big machinery, I have done it for nothing," he said.

"I thought it would be nice to have some benches for old people because they said they have trouble getting around and would like somewhere to sit, so if I do get this grant I could show the council up."

A spokeswoman from Birmingham City Council said: " We have an ongoing maintenance programme for Perry Hall Playing Fields, where the moat is situated. This includes clearing floating debris from the moat three times a week and picking up litter twice a week."