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Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard
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SERVICES SLASHED IN COUNCIL BUDGET

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SCHOOL lollipop patrollers in Argyll and Bute have been spared the axe – but other services will be slashed after the local authority set its spending plans for 2019-20 today (Thursday).

Among the cuts approved by members of Argyll and Bute Council at its Kilmory headquarters were a reduction in the youth and adult learning services budget to less than half its current level – despite protests across by secondary school pupils across the area which made national headlines yesterday.

 

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Maid of the Loch suffers a setback

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Loch Lomond paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is once again berthed at Balloch Pier after an attempt to move her up the slipway failed today.

 

After a rocky year in 2018, the Maid had finally secured enough funding for her to be shifted from her Loch Lomond berth to the slipway nearby.

 

The move had been meticulously planned, as despite only being moved a short distance, the Maid was not doing it under her own steam but by a series of winches to shuffle her into position above a cradle, and then by the original slipway winch on the shore.

 

Local and national press and television were in attendance, alongside hundreds of members of the public, to watch the momentous occasion.

 

While still tethered to the pier in case anything should go wrong, the Maid cast off her stern ropes at around 11.50 this morning, followed by her bow lines, and began the traverse to her starboard side to line up with the slipway.

 

The sideways part of the journey took a little under an hour to complete.

 

The next step was to line her up above a submerged slipway cradle, a job which required inch-perfect precision. That stage completed, the on-shore winch took up the slack and began the slow lifting of the 555-tonne vessel up the slip.

 

So far, so good.

 

However, around 2.30pm, with the Maid's bow just 30 feet from her goal, a problem occurred which sent her running back down the slipway and into the Loch.

 

So far the indications are that the cradle suffered a failure which lead to the boat returning to the water, but a spokesperson for the Loch Lomond Steamship Company said that an investigation will be carried out to find out the actual cause of the accident.

 

Nobody was hurt in the accident, and the Maid did not suffer any damage either.

 

*in tomorrow's Standard, we report that the move of the Maid was a success. At the time of going to press, the operation was going as planned. We apologise for this mistake.

 

 

 

 

A Christmas message from Rt Rev Susan Brown

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altFor many, there is no happier time than Christmas. For others, there is no harder time. When it comes around, Christmas tends to be something that either floats your boat – or rocks it. It is something you love. Or it’s something you endure.
In Scotland, there was a period in our history when, in response to our Presbyterian heritage, we were not very fond of Christmas and in spite of our reputation for always being up for a party, Christmas day, up until the mid 1950s, was just a day like any other.
On December 25th people in Scotland got up as usual: they went to work as usual and life on that day continued as it would on any other. Children may have found a stocking with an orange and a penny in it at the end of their bed and if they were really lucky a book too - but that was it. Not for Scots the excesses of meals, presents and ‘happy holidays!’.
There are those around who would quite like to see a return to that leaner approach to the Christmas season, but not, I suspect for the same reasons as before. For many it’s not because they are dour Presbyterians that they don’t look forward to Christmas. There are other reasons – reasons that are complicated and sometimes interwoven. The emphasis on family for example can be difficult for a whole variety of reasons – because of bereavement, or separation, or family fall outs. Or because someone doesn’t have any family or friends.
Then there is the very child-centred approach we have to Christmas. It can be really tough for those who have lost a child or who can’t have any and for those who are estranged from their offspring for whatever reason.
Then there’s the present giving. If you barely have enough to pay the bills, how can you buy presents? And just like every other child, your child will want to write to Santa – how do you live with knowing they will be disappointedyet again? And others saying: “that’s not what Christmas is about”, doesn’t help if you are not actually choosing to opt out. Many a foodbank will be open on Christmas day and many a church and community will offer a meal because they know that if they don’t, there will be people all over Scotland with nothing much more than a tin of beans on Christmas day. I think it’s good to celebrate. I think it’s even better to do so, sensitive to how others are feeling and in a way that doesn’t exclude anyone. Be blessed this Christmas – and share that blessing.
Rt Rev Susan Brown,
Moderator of the
General Assembly of
the Church of Scotland

A Christmas message from the Provost

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It’s always lovely to feel and see things changing as Christmas gets closer – even if some might say the whole festive season gets started a little too early these days.
Of course it is inescapable once television and radio adverts switch to their Christmas focus, and shops roll out their festive decorations.
It’s a lovely time of year though, and we are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world where even the winter weather doesn’t take away from the scenery and feeling of community.
Argyll and Bute looks festive and colourful, and a lot of credit must go to the community groups who take such great pride in putting on festive events and leading the charge when it comes to Christmas lights and decorations in their towns.
It all helps to add to the feeling that Christmas is a joyous time that should be filled with family, friends, fun and festivities.
Christmas means a lot of different things to different people, and I hope that whatever is most important to you this festive season plays a big part in your celebrations.
And once Christmas has come and gone, the New Year allows us all the chance to look forward to the next 12 months.
I would encourage everyone to take a moment to think about those in our communities who may not find this time of year as much fun as others, for whatever reason.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Councillor Len Scoullar,
Provost of Argyll and Bute

Christmas message from Rt Rev Bishop Brian McGee Bishop to Argyll and the Isles

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Have you ever wished that you could have been present at the first Christmas night?  
Imagine hearing the angels sing!
The wonder of seeing Jesus just after he was born, lying in the crib.
Would that, like Mary, we could have pondered the mystery in our hearts. If only we could have known the joy of the shepherds.
Such an experience would have been so wonderful. Isn’t it a pity we never experienced it?
However, there is no reason for regret. Those who encountered Jesus at Bethlehem, or anywhere else in Israel – as a child or as a man – had no advantage over us.
It is possible for us to have the most intimate and personal relationship with Jesus for he lives within us!
During the Last Supper Jesus urged: “Make your home in me as I make mine in you.” (John 15:5). “You will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20).
However, do we experience this deeply personal encounter with the Lord?
During the Mass of Christmas Day, St John’s Gospel proclaims that although Jesus is “the true light ... the world did not know him. He came to his own domain and the world did not accept him.” (John 1:10-11)
Is it not sad and tragic that God prepared the Chosen People for the coming of Jesus and yet he was rejected?
Is it not equally sad that our own society rejects him today?  
Are we ourselves any better?
St Teresa of Avila, in her masterpiece The Interior Castle, emphasised that at the very centre of our being Christ resides radiating light and beauty – longing for us to benefit from his presence - but unfortunately very few Christians are even aware of his internal presence.
St Teresa’s insight begs the question - would I have recognised Jesus at Bethlehem?
On that holy night would I have been filled with joy, as only a few were, or would I have been indifferent to the divine presence like the majority?
Yet the beautiful truth is that today we can still intimately encounter Jesus.
This is God’s Will, it is only ourselves that prevents it.
During Advent we heard the voice of John the Baptist pleading that we repent and prepare the Lord’s Way. Only then can we truly experience Jesus.
This Christmas let us open up our hearts to the Lord.
Let us seek silence amidst the noise to reflect on his love.
Let us be prayerful.
Let us turn away from sin and reach out to others in love.
Then, with open hearts and minds, we will recognise Jesus and rejoice in his presence.
It would certainly have been lovely, but it was not necessary, for us to have been present at Bethlehem.
For today we can still see Jesus’ glory that is his as God (c.f. John 1:14).
Christ truly lives within us, longing for us to encounter him.
May you do so and be thoroughly blessed this Christmas season!

A festive message from Michael Russell MSP

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Living as we are through the most difficult and disturbing of times it is important for all of us - and especially politicians - to realise that there are more important things than partisan headlines, parliamentary debates and public disagreements.
Family, health, the company of friends, our homes and the wonderful environment of Argyll and Bute that we are lucky enough to live in, are all things which we should treasure and celebrate.
Those who lack them or who through illness or loneliness or despair cannot, for a time, appreciate them need our special thoughts particularly during the festive season.  
As your local MSP, working alongside my constituency staff, I have tried to help all of those who have contacted me during the year for whatever reason. That is my first duty and I am glad to do it.
We won’t always agree on everything but we can agree, I am sure, that by showing solidarity, mutual support and kindness we can find the best way to live together here in Argyll and Bute, in Scotland, across these islands, in Europe and globally.
We cannot know what lies ahead and the uncertainty of Brexit casts a long shadow locally and nationally at present. But this is a time to be hopeful, so with hope in my heart for Argyll and Bute and our country I am delighted to wish everyone in the constituency and beyond a great and very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

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