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All hands on deck over Wilkinson Docklands bridge

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Chris Wilkinson Architects may be sued for its design of an award-winning bridge in London's Docklands after people complained of slipping and falling on the deck.

Around a dozen people have tumbled on to the sweeping European oak surface in wet weather, said Michael Powell, Docklands harbourmaster for British Waterways. One woman who sprained or bruised one of her ankles has been off work for a week and is making a claim against British Waterways. The company may sue the architect or others involved in the design, he warned.

The £2.6 million masts-and-cable South Quay pedestrian bridge which swings open for boats has been roped off for two weeks.

'The bridge is extremely popular, but it is deemed to be unsafe because it is not fulfilling its design function,' said Powell. British Waterways hopes to get feedback on surfacing from the designer next week.

The bridge, which opened last May, won a Design Council Millennium Products award. Chris Wilkinson Architects has said that making the surface less slippery would not be a problem, but it is aesthetically opposed to slopping tarmac on the deck.

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