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Good use of our cash?
The report on the Piers and Harbours Asset Management Plan and Fees and Charges – 2021/22, submitted to the Argyll and Bute Council Harbour Board meeting of December 3, 2020 makes interesting reading.
At a time when budgets are tight, and councils have had to make hard decisions about where to cut services, it is difficult to understand why the council budget should be used to supplement the funding of dedicated ferry infrastructure for which CMAL should be responsible.
The Asset Management Plan allocates £10,335,000 for planned marine infrastructure works for the year 2021/22, of which only £1, 255,000 is devoted to multi-use facilities. The remainder, £9,080,000, is mostly allocated to single-use ferry facilities, and a huge proportion of that is to provide overnight parking for CalMac ferries (to the exclusion of all other vessels); readers will have to make up their own minds about the merits of spending £4,050,000 for an overnight berth at Fionnphort, and £100,000 on a feasibility study for a breakwater at Lismore.
CMAL pay back around half of the £9,080,000 to the council through harbour dues for the use of council-owned piers, however that still leaves a whopping £4 million gap in the required funding.
If past experience of other CMAL projects is anything to go by, the planned 8 per cent increase in council harbour fees and charges up to 2028/29 is not going to cover it.
Fergus Gillanders, Kilmelford.
It was striking to note the restrictions between Scotland and England over the festive season, and to highlight that it was almost 70 years ago to the day that the border between the two nations was closed for the first time in 400 years.
That, of course, was due to the return of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland, when four student nationalists removed the ancient artefact from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1950.
The incident happened nearly seven centuries after the stone was taken from Scone by King Edward I during the Scottish Wars of Independence and placed under the monarch’s chair in the abbey.
When news of the stone’s removal broke, the authorities closed the border between Scotland and England. It was ultimately recovered from Arbroath Abbey, where Scottish nationhood had been asserted with the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It was returned to Westminster Abbey in 1952. This action also coincided with attacks on postboxes in Scotland in a dispute over the title of the new British monarch, Elizabeth II, there being no Elizabeth I of Scotland.
Interestingly, it has recently been revealed that James Stuart, Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland recommended in 1953 the stone be returned to Scotland, but Churchill’s government vetoed this seeing it as rewarding a small minority of hardline nationalists.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh.
Christmas gift like no other
None of us can deny that events in history can be literally life-changing. The current Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly one of the most poignant and significant crises this world has ever known. Yet, while 2020 has been a difficult year, two words will fall from the lips of many people across the world this week: Merry Christmas.
The greatest event in history will again be remembered – the coming of Jesus Christ.
When we exchange gifts there’s a love that motivates the action, but when we examine the love of God, it was unmerited, undeserved and unequalled. God offers us salvation today through faith in His Son, Jesus, when we repent and believe the gospel: ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’ (Luke 2v10-11) The good tidings at the birth of the Lord Jesus contained these words, ‘to all people – a Saviour.’ Yes, a Saviour for sinners!
Sin is the greatest problem facing humanity, not Covid-19, and infects everyone on the planet! ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3v23). This sin-virus is also deadly: ‘The wages of sin is death…’ (Romans 6v23) Mercifully this Bible verse doesn’t end there, it continues: ‘…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ This is God’s unspeakable gift, the greatest ever gift we can receive if we genuinely accept it. His unchanging gracious promise still holds at the end of 2020: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.’ (Matthew 7v7)
When we exchange gifts there’s a love that motivates the action, but when we examine the love of God, it was unmerited, undeserved and unequalled: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.’ (John 3v16) Not only gave Him to be born in a manger at Bethlehem, but also to be crucified at Calvary: ‘God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.’ (Romans 8v32) It was there on the cross, that payment was made so that the gift of God might be offered. It cost the Lord Jesus Christ His precious blood: ‘to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.’ (Hebrews 9v26) He had to die that we might live. What an event, what a gift, what a Saviour!
Christmas reminds us that, unlike the coronavirus and every other disease, there is a healing cure for sin – which is 100 per cent effective. Yes, the cure is the blood of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save sinners. What good news to hear, in these desperately dark, despairing and depressing days! ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ (1 John 1:7&9). What a promise, what hope!
While we can do without many things at Christmas or indeed at any other time of the year, none of us can do without the Saviour and the great salvation He mercifully provided. God offers us salvation today through faith in His Son, Jesus, when we repent and believe the gospel: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’ (Acts 16v31) When you do, it will be, like non other, a very merry Christmas!
We sincerely wish every reader, near and far, a very happy holiday and a blessed new year.
Donald J Morrison, Inverness.