New Sunderland restaurant’s woes after bus crashed into premises

John Conlin (left) and Lee Robson co-directors of Westminster, High Street West, Sunderland, which wa recently damaged after a bus crashed into the building.
John Conlin (left) and Lee Robson co-directors of Westminster, High Street West, Sunderland, which wa recently damaged after a bus crashed into the building.
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A BUS crash has cost a new business thousands of pounds, one of its bosses claimed today.

Workmen were forced to flee for cover and three passengers were injured when the Stagecoach bus ploughed into the former Destination boozer, in High Street West.

Bus crashed into the building in High Street West.

Bus crashed into the building in High Street West.

Now one of the partners of the new Westminster bar and restaurant said they have been left counting the cost, with a big repair bill and having to delay the opening.

Former solider Lee Robson, 40, opened the venue – named after the street and nearby Sunderland Minster – with family friends.

They ploughed their life savings into the venture and recruited a number of staff who had lost their jobs at the Queen Vic, in Roker.

But the Westminster could not open until the damaged building was given the all clear.

Lee, originally from Pennywell, was forced to call in a structural engineer after the May 16 smash.

Now he claims he has not even had a letter from Stagecoach to confirm his claim is being dealt with.

He told the Echo: “The pub did not go into the bus. The bus went into the pub.

“It’s difficult to say how much it’s going to cost at the moment, but it’s fair to say I have quotes of £30,000 plus VAT to do the work, plus lost earnings and everything else that goes with it.”

He added: “We had four lads working in the bar when the bus went into it.

“One of them was right behind the wall doing some rendering, so obviously he got a shock.

“I have to say, I feel sorry for the driver. If the bus had not gone into that corner, there would have been a lot more casualties.

“Obviously the driver has done the right thing.”

Now the ex-Coldstream Guard, who runs the business with friend John Connor, from Grindon, wants the bus company to pay out for the damage to be put right.

“We’ve created 18 new jobs and most of them are from the Queen Vic. We’ve had a lot of loyal customers coming in.

“We could have left it closed and gone down the insurance route and told those people who had finished jobs they had nowhere to go. We had to do a temporary fix on it, but the structural engineer gave it the thumbs up.

“We’ve spent about £90,000 on it so far. We spent £20,000 on a brand-new oven, which only us and the Stadium of Light have.”

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said the matter was being handled by a claims company and declined to comment further.

Just three days before the High Street West crash, Stagecoach bus hit the city centre JobCentre.

An investigation by the transport company confirmed that there was no fault with either vehicle and both drivers were taken ill.