Scaffold boss drives truck into Jarrow firm in cash row


BROWNED off John Robertson saw red and rammed a firm’s offices after blaming them for his business going bust.

His wagon flattened part of the South Tyneside Homes HQ in Jarrow when it ploughed into the entrance.

Mr Robertson, 44, claims he smashed into the building where dozens work after his contract was terminated by the housing company which, he said, led to his scaffolding firm going under.

Upset at losing his business, Mr Robertson said he drove into the grounds of Strathmore House at Viking Industrial Park and rammed into a company car.

He said he then reversed his 22ft company wagon into the entrance and did not stop until the whole vehicle was submerged.

The dad-of-four allegedly waited outside for the police to arrive so he could explain why he caused the damage.

Mr Robertson, from Jarrow, said: “I know what I did was wrong, but I did it anyway. They destroyed my business.

“I only had one customer, which was them, and we had an agreement that I had the exclusive rights to do all of their scaffolding work. I used to turn away business so I could dedicate myself to them.

“Then, one day, they called me up and said they weren’t going to use me anymore. Well, that was it for my company. I had to let all 20 workers go.”

Mr Robertson claims STH agreed a five-year contract with his Hebburn-based company, Robertson Scaffolding LTD, in 2008. He added STH terminated the contract in November last year.

Mr Robertson drove one of his wagons to the housing headquarters in Rolling Mill Road, which oversees housing repairs and maintenance across South Tyneside, including the Decent Homes programme.

After crashing into the building he was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage but has not yet been charged with any offences.

He is due to answer police bail later this month.

Mr Robertson, who lives with wife Susan in York Avenue, added: “When I drove over there I just wanted to leave my wagon in front of the entrance so they could see it in the morning.

“But then I saw an electric company car, so I smashed into it. After that looked at the entrance and decided to reverse into that as well.

“I waited outside and smoked two cigarettes until the police showed up.

“I had no intention of running away.

“I wanted to tell them what I did and why I did it.

“I told them everything in my police interview.”

Workers were drafted in on the morning after the accident to repair the damaged entrance.

A police spokeswoman said: “A 44-year-old man from Jarrow has been questioned and bailed after a vehicle was driven into Strathmoor House on March 20.

“He was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.”

A spokesman for STH refused to comment on claims the company terminated Mr Robertson’s contract, but chief executive Isobel Riley said: “We are currently assisting the police with their investigation into the incident.”

Boss to stand in local election

DEFIANT John Robertson has already chosen his next career – and he’s hoping to make it big in local politics.

The Chronicle can reveal today that Mr Robertson has thrown his hat into the ring for next month’s local elections.

The dad-of-four is standing in the Primrose ward in Jarrow as an Independent candidate.

And he’s being backed for the role by Labour MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, who has supplied a reference to South Tyneside Council.

Mr Robertson said: “I have lots of friends who are already councillors and I’ve always been greatly interested in local politics.

“I think I could do a great job because I would work for the residents. I don’t think councillors in Primrose do enough for the community.

“I’m also a Jarrow lad and know the area and the people as good as anyone.”

Mr Hepburn’s reference to the authority said: “I can confirm that I have personally known John Robertson for many years.

“Over the period of time we have been acquainted, I have always known him to be an honest, extremely hard-working and reliable individual.

“He is dedicated to his business and his employees and supports various activities in the local area. I have no problem giving John a positive reference.”