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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

No room for complacency in Afghanistan, warns 45 Commando CO

June 2 2011

The commanding officer of Arbroath's 45 Commando has warned his unit against complacency, despite a drop in insurgent activity on the Afghan front line. Afghanistan's traditional summer fighting season has yet to materialise, which is likely due to a late opium poppy harvest occupying many local men. The unit deployed as part of 3 Commando Brigade on Operation Herrick 14 has assumed responsibility of Combined Force Nad-e Ali South, which it will command until September. Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Lee said the marines are out on the ground every day in Nad-e Ali South and insurgent activity is down. He said it is not known how much of that is down to the impact of British forces in the area and how much to something as simple as a late harvest. "The question that is as yet for me unanswered is how much is it those other factors that are outside our control that are currently suppressing insurgent activity," he said. "Long may it continue but it's not a time to be sure that we're moving out of the woods. Therefore it's not a time to show any complacency at all." The Taliban declared the start of a spring and summer fighting season on May 1, promising to attack military bases and government institutions as NATO prepares to hand over security to Afghan forces next month. However, in Taliban strongholds insurgents are laying down their arms to help bring in the lucrative crop, which yields the sticky opium paste used to make heroin.$300 million in profitAfghanistan provides over 90% of the world's heroin. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime it earns the Taliban about $300 million in profit each year after being smuggled across the country's poorly guarded borders. Troops have been warned that once the harvest is finished Taliban fighters will not only be free to pick up their weapons again but will also have cash to buy new ones. Captain Adam Lee from 45 Commando, who is serving his second tour of Afghanistan, reckons progress is definitely being made in the region. He first deployed to Nad-e Ali South in 2009. Two years on he is back but this time it is a very different job in a very different place. The 27-year-old from Devizes in Wiltshire is now second in command of Yankee Company, 45 Commando, located at Patrol Base Samsoor near the village of Khowshaal Kalay. His job involves co-ordinating patrols, resupplies and facilitating meetings with locals. "Things are much better compared to when I was last here," he said. "Then we were fighting nearly every day but now the threat both to us and the local people is much lower. People feel safer and, as a result, they're more interested in a future of peace and stability." In Helmand, Captain Lee splits his time between the company's patrol base and the headquarters of 45 Commando at Forward Operating Base Shawqat, which is an old British fort. He acknowledged that he is able to get among the locals and help find solutions to their problems. "Satisfying the needs of the local people can be a real challenge, though, because you need to differentiate between the priority cases and the less vital ones," he said. "Overall, though, it's very rewarding and reassuring that things are improving it means that all those who didn't make it home on our last tour helped to achieve something." During 45 Commando's last tour in the country, which began in October 2008, 32 service personnel lives were lost. In December that year 45 Commando suffered its single largest loss of life since the Falklands campaign when three of its marines died as a result of two explosions on the same day.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Ex-45 Commando CO is military adviser to David Cameron

October 15 2010

The former commanding officer of Arbroath's 45 Commando Group has landed a top government posting after being named military adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron. Colonel Jim Morris' appointment makes him the first serving military assistant to a British premier since the second world war. On Wednesday the PM announced he was appointing a military assistant to work in his private office in Downing Street to advise him on defence, including operations in Afghanistan. His new aide is a battle-hardened Royal Marine who won honours for leading 45 Commando during a bloody six-month tour in the Taliban stronghold of Sangin over the winter of 2008. Col Morris joined the Royal Marines in 1987 and, on completion of young officer training, joined 45 Commando Group and fulfilled a variety of troop command and regimental roles. During his initial three years at RM Condor he completed two deployments to Norway, a jungle warfare instructor course and a sustained-fire machine gun troop commander's course, as well as operational deployments to South Armagh and northern Iraq, the latter as part of Operation Haven. In 1996, after junior command and staff training, Col Morris returned to the Commando Training Centre and took a batch of young officers through training before joining 3 Commando Brigade HQ. He joined 40 Commando as the commanding officer of C Company, undertaking an amphibious deployment to the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt on Exercise Argonaut, Spearhead duties and another Northern Ireland operational tour to west Belfast. Following promotion in 2004, he took over responsibility for the career management of senior Royal Marines officers at the Directorate of Naval Career Management. In 2006 he became operations officer at the Combined UK Amphibious Forces HQ and assumed overall command of 45 Commando in December 2007. Col Morris, previously military assistant to defence secretary Liam Fox, was decorated with a Distinguished Service Order for his role as commanding officer of 45 Commando in Sangin, scene of the bloodiest fighting for British troops in Afghanistan. He was succeeded at RM Condor by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Lee in September 2009. Col Morris is expected to focus on operations in Afghanistan, working with Gen Richards and national security adviser Sir Peter Ricketts to support Mr Cameron. The Prime Minister said, "His appointment reflects the very high priority I attach to ensuring the needs of the armed forces are heard right at the centre of government. "Jim will bring a wealth of military experience to my team, including direct experience of working in Afghanistan."

UK & World

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.


Marines of 45 Commando told to ‘kill when necessary’

March 21 2011

Royal Marines from 45 Commando in Arbroath en route to Afghanistan for a six-month tour have been told to "kill the enemy when necessary" but that body count does not indicate success. This is one of 10 key principles of the mission for around 600 marines in Nad-e-Ali, Helmand province, deploying as part of a 9500-strong UK section of NATO forces. The marines' duties will include patrolling, protecting reconstruction teams, supporting the Afghan national army and police and denying insurgents freedom of movement. The first military operation in Afghanistan in 2002 was led by the marines as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). There were deployments in 2006 and 2008, but this deployment is a first as 45 Commando have never been on a summer tour, or been based at Nad-e-Ali South. The key principles for the mission are:It is an Afghan counter-insurgency and we must keep Afghan needs at its centre. The average Afghan wants his interests to be looked after and his security to be ensured. The campaign will be won by satisfying Afghan hopes. Kill the enemy when necessary but body count will not always indicate success. Have the courage to use the absolute minimum force. Always think clearly even when angry or afraid. Military operations will not occur in isolation. Always treat Afghan people with dignity. Promise low and deliver high. Minimise cultural mistakes.Since summer the men of 45 Commando have undergone rigorous training to prepare them for the task ahead.CO 'immensely proud'Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Lee said, "The commando has completed over six months of Afghan-specific pre-deployment training and is now in the best possible shape to undertake the challenges of the months ahead. "I am immensely proud of all of the men of the commando and have the utmost confidence in every single one of them." Improvements in security throughout the winter in Nad-e Ali have seen the British-trained and mentored police provide increasingly effective security, launching operations to protect the population and drive back insurgent influence. They are also increasingly dealing with more 'normal' crime incidents. Lt Col Lee said that many of the insurgents have been pushed into the desert and in more than 2000 engagements the coalition forces have always prevailed. The result is that insurgent encounters are reduced to what the troops call "shoot and scoot" skirmishes. They rarely stand and fight. The insurgent weapon of choice now is the improvised explosive device. US Major General Richard Mills, commanding officer regional command, said that it was difficult to say when the Afghan national security forces would take over full responsibility for security. He said, "One test for this is simple, and I'd say one which the ANSF are already passing is the confidence that the local people have in them. "Regarding the police force in Helmand province, a year ago they were seen as a bunch of thugs simply out to enrich themselves. "They are now looked upon as people who protect and serve."

Angus & The Mearns

RAF centenary marked at Montrose site of Britain’s first operational air station

April 3 2018

Britain’s first operational military air base has played a crucial part in marking the centenary of the RAF’s formation. At Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, veterans laid wreaths at the commemorative stone erected to honour those who served at RFC/RAF Montrose from its beginnings in 1913. A host of Battle of Britain aces would later take to the Angus skies. Later this year a Freedom of Angus ceremony will mark the formation of the UK’s first fixed-wing air squadron, putting the RAF alongside HMS Montrose, 45 Commando Royal Marines and the Black Watch as holders of the honour. Heritage Centre chairman Ron Morris said No. 2 Squadron established the air station at Montrose as the first operational military air base in Britain. Another key milestone was the January 1936 formation of No. 8 Flight Training School to train pilots in response to the re-armament of Germany. That led to the setting up of No. 2 Flight Instructor School to further improve standards. British and Commonwealth pilots were tutored alongside Polish, Czech, American, Russian, Turkish, French and other Allied airmen. Montrose also served as a base for the Spitfires and Hurricanes of operational squadrons which formed part of the air defence for the city of Edinburgh and the coastal ports along the east coast of Scotland. The Angus base trained a host of Battle of Britain heroes who became highly-decorated household names, including Wing Commander Paddy Finucane DSO DFC, Squadron Leader Basil Gerald ‘Stapme’ Stapleton DFC, Wing Commander Tom ‘Ginger’ Neil DFC AFC AE,  Wing Commander John Freeborn DFC, Flying Officer Edgar James ‘Cobber’ Kain DFC, Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC and Wing Commander Ian Richard ‘Widge” Gleed DSO DFC. Mr Morris added: “The successful training of the best pilots in the world was only achieved through the magnificent efforts of many unsung heroes, such as the fitters, mechanics, and the women of the ATA, such as Amy Johnson, who delivered aircraft to Montrose along with many more that make up the serving and support staff of the RAF.” RAF centenary commemorations also took place in Carnoustie and Arbroath, with Air Officer Scotland, Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson the top RAF representative at the events.

Angus & The Mearns

RM Condor Commandos leader bows out in dramatic style

September 8 2017

Leadership of the Arbroath-based Royal Marines unit has changed hands — in true Commando fashion. As is usual for the battalion, the 45 Commando unit was put through its paces, completing a leisurely ten-mile run from their headquarters at RM Condor to the sweeping sands of Lunan Bay to mark the change. The ceremonial run saw Lieutenant Colonel Turner step down as Commanding Officer with 45 Commando, one of the the UK's three elite battalion-sized units, and replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Forbes. The Lunan Bay run is a rite of passage for 45 Commando Group ranks and is often followed by a compulsory dip in the North Sea. On this occasion, to mark his departure, Lieutenant Colonel Turner took the plunge — alongside Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer 1 David Young — and in a Hollywood-style exit, swam out to waiting boats which then whisked the pair away. New Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Forbes, joins the unit after serving as Military Assistant to The Secretary of State for Defence, The Right Honourable Sir Michael Fallon KCB MP. The handover comes as the base carries out a large training operation with nearby residents in Carnoustie and Monifieth noting an increased number of helicopters passing in the skies above their homes. The exercise, which will run for the rest of the week, is being supported by 845 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force, which is based in Yeovilton in Somerset. RM Condor — as well as being home to 45 Commando Royal Marines — also houses 7 (Sphinx) Battery, part of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, 2 Signals Squadron from 32 Signals Regiment and 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group Royal Military Police Detachment. Anyone hoping to join the unit will need to undergo one of the longest and most physically gruelling infantry training regimes in the world.  Training takes 32 weeks for Marines, with Royal Marine officers undertaking 60 weeks. Training ends with the infamous Commando Course, a 30-mile march across Dartmoor with equipment and rifle which needs to be completed in less than eight-hours.  Those who are successful earn the right to wear the coveted Green Beret.


EXCLUSIVE: Finger of suspicion hangs over convictions

May 23 2013

A nationwide review is under way after hundreds of cases were put in jeopardy amid fears unauthorised police staff were routinely taking DNA and fingerprint samples. Experts warn serious crimes could go unpunished as a result of the apparent blunder. Leading defence QC Donald Findlay said convictions could be reviewed if the Police Scotland internal investigation finds evidence of malpractice. The issue came to light after The Courier obtained an email ordering all police staff at stations in Dundee and Arbroath to stop custody duties immediately. Labour MSP Graeme Pearson warned the implications could be devastating if it is found workers did not have the appropriate authority. Custody division commander Chief Superintendent Ciorstan Shearer said the force is “actively seeking clarification” from partners, understood to include the Crown Office, about the roles and responsibilities of Scottish custody centre staff. She added she was “confident there is no impact on service provision” while the investigation is ongoing. For Kieran Andrews’ exclusive report, and full reaction, see Thursday’s Courier or try our digital edition.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk