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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Artist adds a splash of colour to Brechin’s new flood defences

March 16 2016

Work has begun on a large artwork marking five aspects of an ancient Angus seat as part of a major construction project. Brechin’s multi-million-pound flood protection scheme began work to prevent constant flooding of streets along the South Esk last year. Even though the scheme was incomplete during Storm Frank on December 31, up to 300 houses were believed saved by flooding. The first of five mosaics by local artist Maureen Crosbie is now in place on River Street. Maureen, who runs Gallus Glass, said the finished article, Brechin Flood Prevention Mosaic, will depict a “huge variety of images and ideas” reflecting a settlement dating back to the 10th Century. The artwork was achieved with assistance from schools, the day care centre and a number of people who asked to help place glass directly into the barrier. Maureen said: “A large number of the Brechin community volunteered to work on this project. “Some dedicated a huge amount of time and effort to partake in the task, while some only popped in to the studio to offer support and show an interest in the event. All of them were appreciated.” With images of the South Esk running through all five of the artworks, the mosaics are enclosed in a semi- circle, reflecting the shapes of Robert Watson-Watt’s wartime work on radar. A black and white mosaic will depict the history of Brechin’s people and industry. The local landscape will be portrayed in the green mosaic, where an image of Brechin Castle will be found. Mrs Crosbie said Brechin’s “beautiful buildings” will be illustrated in the predominantly pink and purple tones of the third mosaic. The fourth will illustrate the diverse environment that the South Esk passes through and uses natural tones of brown and fawn to describe the area’s flora and fauna. The fifth and final mosaic, in reds and oranges, will celebrate Brechin’s more recent activities.

Angus & The Mearns

Support for Brechin to host first ‘free food’ fridge in Angus

August 24 2017

An Angus community group will offer the county’s first “free food fridge” when it opens in October. Brechin Community Pantry will move into a revamped Swan Street location to offer emergency food packages and a children’s clothing bank. But there are also plans to expand its remit into improving IT skills, debt counselling and simple cooking classes. A free food fridge will be available for donations and the collection of fresh, unwanted food items. Spokeswoman Bridget Gillies said: “We are really looking forward to moving into our new base in Brechin and hope that we can be more accessible to the community. “We also want to turn away from the perception of what a foodbank is by making it open to all regardless of status. “We want to recognise that anyone can drop into food poverty or go hungry, by offering emergency food supplies without referral and the availability of a free food fridge.” The idea is based on the success of several other community fridges across the UK in such places as Brixton, Somerset and Bristol where individual donors or businesses hand in unused, in-date bread, fruit and vegetables. “Someone may have overbought on their shopping and, instead of throwing unwanted food out, they can donate quickly to the "free food" fridge,” Bridget added. “The fridge will be open for everyone to put in and take out, with no questions asked.” Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Gougeon, a trustee of the project, will officially open the new Swan Street hub next month. She said: “The free community fridge is a fantastic idea and one that I think will tap into Brechin’s community spirit. “I’ll certainly be donating food where I can and I’m sure that there will be many local people and businesses who will be keen to support this initiative. “The group is raising funds to buy a glass-fronted commercial fridge but it would be absolutely fantastic if a local business was in a position to donate an unwanted fridge to get this idea up and running as quickly as possible and free up money for other ideas Brechin Community Pantry wishes to support.”

Angus & The Mearns

Vision on public can help shape Brechin’s future

January 16 2013

COMMERCE, RELIGION and disease held sway over an Angus burgh over the centuries, with boom and bust a frequent visitor. The town of Brechin and its surroundings have grown and shrunk in its 1,000-year history and the area is in a period of transition. Now, its future is the subject of a document entitled A Vision of Brechin, which looks likely be approved by councillors tomorrow. And the people and businesses of Brechin are being asked to take part in a community discussion on the way ahead a decision that could affect the lives of generations at a meeting to be arranged later this year. A report by neighbourhood services director Ron Ashton goes before Angus councillors in Forfar tomorrow. Mr Ashton said: “Even although the area has the significant assets in terms of looking to its future, it would be true to say that it also faces some challenges and the area needs to deal with these in the coming years to prosper economically and socially.” Councillors will hear a number of local community planning improvements have happened in the area over the past 18 months. These include the re-emergence of a community council, the establishment of Brechin Retailers’ Group and a Brechin and Area Partnership action plan. Discussion over Brechin’s future has been spurred on by the emergence of a community campus as a replacement for the high school. The report says this “will have a significant knock-on effect in terms of other building usage within the city.” Mr Ashton adds: “During these discussions it had been recognised that whilst this in itself could be seen as a very negative matter, there is a genuine desire amongst the parties concerned to try to turn this issue into a positive development in terms of moving Brechin forward.” Those involved in drafting A Vision of Brechin are keen it leads to wider discussion at a community event, to be held early this year. Councillors will be asked to give permission for a one-day event with emphasis on the future of Brechin’s public buildings. The likes of the city hall and Damacre Centre will need thought on their future use due to the development of new facilities and the replacement high school/campus. Groups such as the City of Brechin and Area Partnership, the community council, Round table and Rotary have also added to a “partnership vision”. The aim of this is to “create an area in which its residents are proud to work, live and invest in and an area which attracts visitors to enhance the economic well-being of the area for the benefit of both citizens and local businesses.” riwatt@thecourier.co.uk

Readers' letters

Complex problems of saving hen harriers

January 30 2016

Sir, - Nicolle Hamilton described Jim Crumley’s article (January 19) on grouse shooting as unbalanced and distorted. Strong words but are they justified? In his article, Jim made great play of the plight of hen harriers, implicating those who manage grouse moors. However, Jim knows it is not that simple. Hewill have read the recent article in Scottish Birds by Bob McMillan. Following a 12-year-long study on the Isle of Skye, Bob reported that of 88 nesting attempts by hen harriers, 47 failed, with predators the most likely cause. Monitoring nests with cameras revealed that red foxes were responsible for two thirds of the failures, killing chicks and fledged and adult birds. He will also have read the report in 2013 by David Baines and Michael Richardson on the first 10 years ofthe experiment onLangholm Moor. This showed that a grouse moor provides an excellent habitat for hen harriers as the game keepers controlledpredators such as red foxes and ensured there was abundant prey for the harriers. Following the protection of hen harriersin 1992, their numbers on Langholm Moor greatly increased. But by 2002 their numbers had againcollapsed following the removal of the keepers in 1999. This collapse was attributed to increased predation, particularly by red foxes and lack of prey resulting from the removal of the keepers. The keepers were removed because the increased numbers of harriers had limited the numbers of grouse for shooting. This is a complex, catch 22 situation. Jim knows all this but chooses to vilify many of those who live and work in the countryside. But dealing with the complex issues typical of the real world is not Jim’s remit. Keep it simple Jim; people are theproblem. David Trudgill. The Steading, Blairgowrie. Predationthreat to birds Sir, - I write in response to JimCrumlney’s column, Nature pays dearly for grouse shooters. Despite the trials of our lives including pressures on our sleeping patterns, few if any,people worry about being killed by another predatory species. However, for practically every other species, predation is a real and increasing threat. Growing evidence suggests that breeding populations of some ground-nesting birds, such as wading birds and gamebirds, are more likely to be limited by predation than other groups,perhaps because their nests or young are mostvulnerable to predation. This comes at a time when, with the exception of the kestrel, every other species of raptor populations has grown, in many cases exponentially, and that some form of control is required to limitfurther impact on rare and vulnerable species. The UK Government has recognised theproblem is not as one sided as bird charities would suggest and it has implemented a henharrier recovery plan in England. I could invite Mr Crumley to accompany me to visit a few of the areas he highlighted as being a problem to see the conservation effort and the tangible biodiversity from those he would castigate. But when did the truth ever get in the way of a good story? Jamie Stewart. Scottish Countryside Alliance, Director for Scotland. 16 Young Street, Edinburgh. Wildlife cleared from estates Sir, - George Murdoch (January 26) makes some interesting points about raptor crime, estates and conservation bodies. It would be a big step forward if all estates were transparent in a genuine way rather than the glossed-over attempt to portray themselves as the saviours of these Scottish moorlands. Some are keen topromote the view that all manner of wildlife is flourishing under their guardianship. Sadly, some estates have cleared their land of all Scottish red deer and Scottish mountain hares purely because they carry ticks, which if picked up by grouse can affect their well-being. This hardly helps the biodiversity of these places and is an affront to our natural heritage. Sadder still is the fact that hen harriers have not nested in Angus for 10 years. Robert Anderson. Kirkton, Arbroath. Ladies made homeless Sir, - Twenty years ago a group of ladies formed a craft group at the Damacre Centre in Brechin. Since then we have met every Fridaymorning to enjoy two hours of companionship and crafting. Now Angus Council has told us we can no longer use the centre but have to move to the new high school. However, until the old school is pulled down in 2017, there will be no parking or a bus service. Many of us are in our 80s so how are we expected to get there? The Damacre Centre is only two minutes’ walk from a good bus service. We have offered to pay more to stay at thecentre, at least until 2017, but have been turned down. So thanks to thecouncil and the SNP’s mania for centralisation, 24 elderly ladies are deprived of their Friday morning get-togethers and another building is added to the long list of buildings which blight Brechin. Mrs M. Armstrong. 83 High Street, Edzell. Litter blight in Kinross Sir, - As I was working in Kinross on January 21, I decided to visit the local Sainsbury’s supermaket for a bit of lunch. On travelling back from the store, I was shocked by the amount of litter on the pavement at Springfield Road. Further up Springfield Road I witnessed a group of school pupils who had been at the supermarket, leaving plastic foodcontainers, cans, leftover bread and so on, littering the pavement. It waslittle wonder the pupils were being followed by a flock of seagulls. This is the worst case of littering I have ever witnessed. Do these pupils not have anyconcern about the litter they leave behind and the cost to council forclearing up this mess? Ian Robertson. Hillview, Station Road, Crook of Devon. EU has Britain in tax trap Sir, - The disgraceful deal between Google and HM Revenue andCustoms is a simplecase of soft-targettaxation. Individuals and small businesses are pursued like war criminals, while for many multinationals, paying tax in Britain is an optional extra. It is not just in taxation that the authoritiesfollow this unfair approach of picking on the weak and ignoring the powerful. The police have long practised soft-target policing. It is easy to pursue motorists for speeding and fools on socialmedia; policing thehardened criminals in the country is quite another matter. For policing, what is chiefly needed is a change of heart, but for taxation that will not be enough. Multinationals know that there is nothing that we can do to make them pay in Britain on their British profits so long as we are in the European Union. To its credit, the coffee chain Starbucks haschosen in the last couple of years to start to pay its fair share. The other multinationals just laugh at us. Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation should have included a change to EU rules on free movement of capital to ensure that profits are taxed where they are earned. Of course, he didnot because therenegotiation is simply cosmetic. A future in whichmultinationals pay their fair share of tax is yet another reason for usto vote to leave theEuropean Union. Otto Inglis. Ansonhill, Crossgates. SNP champions Tory austerity Sir, - I thank Councillor Kevin Cordell forhis generous comments (January 27) about my role as councillor for the West End on Dundee City Council. However, in relation to the impending huge budget cuts to Scottish local government,Councillor Cordellconfuses facts asopinion. I made no comment on whether or notthe block grant settlement from Westminster is generous or not this year but it is a fact that it has been increased by £0.5 billion a 1.7% increase. The SNP Scottish Government, despite this 1.7% increase from Westminster, has decided to slash local government budgets across Scotland by 3.5%, a massive cut in local services of £350m, across Scottish localgovernment. If anyone is the bag carrier for Tory austerity, Councillor Cordell has only to look to his own SNP Government. Cllr Fraser Macpherson. Councillor for the West End, Dundee City Council.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus and Mearns Matters: Brechin’s upturn hits the skids

April 3 2017

For a place that’s built its recent success on how fast folk can get from top to bottom, it’s unsettling to see things going downhill in Brechin. This week brought the disappointing news that the burgh is going to miss out on its noisy, colourful, leather-and-chrome clad hogfest with community group Bravo Brechin’s decision to pull the plug on the summer Harley-Davidson in the City festival. For so many reasons, HDITC was something to celebrate. In addition to the obvious one of bringing so many fantastic, rumbling machines onto the streets of the cathedral city and the rural roads of Angus for us to enjoy, it also tied the heritage of an old stone cotter house to those much-admired sportsters, soft tails and fat boys and the glorious rumble of a v-twin. Sadly, running the event has been nothing like as silky smooth as the ride of a well-sorted H-D. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/396152/problems-silence-the-roar-of-thunder-at-brechin-harley-davidson-celebration/ Relations between the community group and enthusiasts who lovingly rebuilt the Davidson Legacy cottage at Netherton from where Sandy and Margaret set off from in pursuit of the American dream have been lumpy to say the least, and Bravo’s effort in getting Harley-Davidson approval to make a big deal of the day have also hit several bumps in the road. A few years ago the dynamic and ambitious band of local volunteers also set up the UK’s biggest street water slide as a sideshow attraction for when the bikers were in town and what instantly became a foam-filled family hit will also be absent in July. I’ve been down the slide and it was probably as much fun as you could ever expect to have on a plastic lilo with all your clothes on. But not nearly as much fun as pulling the crash helmet visor down and strapping myself into a roofbox mounted on a racing chassis for the 40mph thrill of the Brechin cartie races. Unfortunately, a lack of entries and the huge undertaking of putting on the Scottish championship event put paid to it in 2016. Bravo hoped the carties would return in 2017, but with the roar of thunder now silenced and water slide hopes evaporated it all seems to be on a bit of a slippery slope for Brechin.

Angus & The Mearns

Brechin Harley-Davidson extravaganza back on track after rescue team steps up

April 5 2017

Brechin’s summer Harley-Davidson festival is back on track after breakaway enthusiasts stepped in to save the event. Just days after the Bravo Brechin community group delivered the shock announcement that the plug had been pulled on the Harley-Davidson in The City motorcycle extravaganza, key figures in the past growth of the event have pledged to step in to avert the loss of the major crowd-puller. It is now scheduled for July 15/16, with high hopes that last year’s total of over 500 motorcycles and some 8,000 visitors will be at least repeated, if not bettered. Edinburgh Harley-Davidson has also signalled its support for the Angus event, forged on the back of Brechin’s connection to the famous marque through the Davidson family home at Netherton cottage, near the town. Organisational pressures and the absence of official Harley-Davidson approval were cited by Bravo Brechin as reasons for the 2017 event not going ahead. “Bravo Brechin’s decision to cancel the 2017 Harley-Davidson in the City event has been met with general dismay, and the reasons stated have caused some angst,” said a spokesman. “A number of those who have been involved in the organising and running of the event over the years felt there were options which could still be explored to try and run the event. “While no written permission has yet been issued by Harley-Davidson to confirm permission for the use of the name in the event title, conversations had been held between Kirk Hale, dealer principal of Edinburgh Harley-Davidson and Harley-Davidson UK in Oxford, which have intimated consent would be issued and no problems were envisaged.” The spokesman also rejected an earlier suggestion that the manufacturer had tried to block last year’s event as false. “We have taken the plunge to run the event ourselves for the benefit of local businesses, the community of Brechin and for Angus as a whole,” he added. “Last year there were over 500 bikes in attendance, drawing in an audience over the Saturday of nearly 8,000 people, both of which have a significant impact on the town and the surrounding area, and to have lost this event, even for a year, would be tragic.” “It was quickly clear there was a definite desire to try and make sure the event happened, and after a few phone conversations with the Harley-Davidson dealership in Edinburgh, a way was found that we could make the event happen and we are delighted to be able to do so.” “While the event has this very specific link with the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, it has always welcomed all makes to participate in both the ride-out and the park and display in the town centre,” the spokesman added. “In the past it has attracted custom racing teams, bikes built by pros and amateurs, customised Harley-Davidsons, as well as many major motorcycle makes and of course the famous Harley-Davidson bike in great numbers on the ride-out. “It feels like a celebration festival of the motorcycle rather just than an exhibition of bikes,” the spokesman said. Kirk Hale, dealer principal at Edinburgh Harley-Davidson added: “As a Harley-Davidson dealership, we have always supported HDITC in Brechin, and have found it to be a well-organised event, as well as commercially beneficial. “I am therefore delighted to be able to give both my personal and business support to the HDITC organising team for the 2017 event, and will do everything in my power to make the event the success it has been in the past. The aim is for the 2017 event to kick off with a rock night in Brechin’s City Hall on Friday July 14, followed by a country and western night in the same venue the following evening after the main town centre spectacle and ride out.