'I lost my little girl because of council’s failure to carry out playground checks'

Themother of a five-year-old girl who died when a rotting playground swing collapsed said today she is “truly disappointed” at failings by Tower Hamlets council that led to her child’s death.

Alexia Walenkaki was playing with school friends in Mile End Park a day before her sixth birthday when the crumbling log swing broke and struck her on the head -writes standard.co.uk

A jury at St Pancras coroner’s court yesterday found poplar wood riddled with fungi has been wrongly used to make the equipment instead of oak, and that the council had missed an annual safety check on the playground 10 months before the fatal incident.

Speaking after the hearing, Alexia’s mother, Vida Kwotuah, said: “It is clear to me now that there were many failings here. I am truly disappointed to learn how chaotic and disorganised management was within the council, which no doubt led to the missed annual inspection in 2014.

Short life: Alexia Walenkaki died a day before her sixth birthday (Glenn Copus )

“Because of these failings I have lost my little girl.”

Ms Kwotuah said the death, on July 17, 2015 had “shook the foundations of our family”, and she was forced to relive the “horrible” incident during the two week-long inquest.

She added: “We hope that lessons have been learnt and safeguards are now in place to ensure that no further annual inspections are missed.

“We also hope that checks are made when new equipment is installed, to make sure it is done properly. Children have a right to play safely in public playgrounds.”

The Crown Prosecution Service said in March this year that no one would face criminal charges over Alexia’s death despite the failings uncovered.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said the council “accepts and respects” the jury’s verdict. “Following Alexia’s death, we made urgent safety checks of equipment at all council-run play facilities across the borough,” he said.

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