Setting Sustran's record straight

MR Rapier (letters, Penarth Times, November 21) has raised concerns over Sustrans’ influence on the railway path in Penarth.

To be clear, this is not a scheme that we are involved in funding or delivering, but I have no doubt it will greatly enrich the lives of those who live on and around it when it is complete, as has happened elsewhere where similar paths have been created.

There are many other inaccuracies in Mr Rapier’s letter. Like all charities we receive a range of funding, all of which is spent delivery projects which benefit local communities. We have 40,000 supporters, and 3,500 volunteers who help us with our work. And like many other charities these days we also bid to win competitive tenders, like the very successful work we’re currently delivering for the Welsh Government to increase walking, cycling and bus use in Cardiff and Penarth and elsewhere.

We are not a membership organisation, but most charities are not. We are registered with the Charity Commission and Companies House, and are always transparent about our governance, our vision, mission and charitable aims and objectives and our income and expenditure. We publish our annual report and statutory accounts, and an annual review all of which are available on our website. In addition Mr Rapier, or anyone else, is welcome to pick up the phone and engage with us at any time if he has concerns about how we work.

With funding from the Big Lottery Fund we have transformed everyday travel for millions of people, not least here in Cardiff and Penarth where the Pont y Werin Bridge, delivered in partnership with both local authorities, has brought significant change and helped to reconnect the people of Penarth with Cardiff Bay.

It is this kind of work (delivered all over the UK with active community involvement), that led us to be voted by the public as their favourite lottery funded project in the environment category of the National Lottery Awards in August 2013. An award we received from Kate Humble on the Pont y Werin Bridge – an incredibly proud moment for us.

Encouraging people to walk and cycle or use public transport for short trips instead of the car is not a minority issue as Mr Rapier seems to suggest. Wales now has an Active Travel Act – the Welsh Government’s pioneering approach to tackling congestion, reducing carbon emissions and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

I do not expect to change Mr Rapier’s mind, but I hope he will accept my invitation to meet him so I can address some of his erroneous assertions. Rest assured Sustrans will continue to bring investment to Wales which creates a better environment and enables people to travel in ways that benefit their health and our environment.

Jane Lorimer

National Director, Sustrans Cymru

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