A man who drove a truck into council offices over a contracts row - and has now been elected as a councillor - has pledged to “put the past behind him”.
John Robertson was one of four new independent councillors elected to South Tyneside Council last week
After losing out in elections last year, the 52-year-old stormed to victory in Fellgate and Hedworth with 1,163 votes – a 204-vote majority over Labour’s Audrey Huntley.
Now, the new councillor has pledged to champion more transparency from council leaders and focus on the closure of St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow.
He said: “Now I can scrutinise documentation that I wouldn’t normally have access to as a resident.
“Everything I do will be put on social media with regard to the council. I will keep my residents up to date with everything I do and try to do.”
Almost a decade ago, Mr Robertson, then the boss of a scaffolding firm, found himself in court after driving his 22ft lorry into South Tyneside Homes HQ - Strathmore House.
The offence in 2011 – which caused almost £160,000 of damage – followed a contracts row housing bosses and Mr Robertson, who later filed for bankruptcy.
He says he “regretted” his actions against South Tyneside Homes at the time and was sentenced to a 40-week prison term, suspended for two years.
Now preparing to enter South Shields Town Hall as a councillor, Mr Robertson says he plans to put the past behind him.
He said: “I’m looking forward to the future, it’s not conflict I’m after.
“I’m willing to put the past behind me and work towards the future for the benefit of residents.”
He says his key priorities include putting residents first, fighting to save local services and more collaboration between the council and MPs.
Mr Robertson is currently ‘scaffold manager’ at cleaning and painting firm, Alexander Blast.
He hopes to work with other newly elected independents in the borough towards similar goals.
South Tyneside Council’s make-up is now 48 Labour, four independents, one Green and Coun Jeff Milburn, who was elected as a Conservative last year.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service