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...
REMPLOY HAS defended its decision to keep information from a group set up by politicians to save the Dundee site. Chairman of the cross-party committee, Provost Bob Duncan, accused the employer of creating “needless difficulties” for politicians. The coalition Government claims the Dunsinane Avenue factory is “not commercially viable”. It believes the £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be better spent. A cross-party group, whose members include Dundee councillors, MSPs and MPs, as well as a representative of Remploy management and staff, are now exploring alternative opportunities for the Dunsinane Avenue business. However, the provost has suggested Remploy is obstructing this process. He told The Courier: “We did not get immediate access to the so-called electronic data room set up by Remploy to give interested parties detailed financial, business and technical information concerning the company. “Now they are putting further needless difficulties in the way of a cross-party group that wants to explore every avenue open to it to try to save jobs and livelihoods.” In an email, Remploy head office told council officers the firm was “unable to meet your request for additional information, or to survey employees”. This was because the company was in a period of “collective consultation about potential redundancies”. The email added: “We do not believe it to be appropriate to ask employees whether they might wish to remain in employment after a potential transfer. “To do so at this time may cause the employees considerable uncertainty and increase any confusion they may have about their future.” A spokesman for Remploy insisted the commercial process for the sale of Remploy businesses “has to strike a balance between giving bidders sufficient information to build an outline business case, while showing appropriate sensitivity to employees and not being seen to pre-empt the outcome of our collective consultations with them”. He added: “Our view is that to allow all bidders access of the sort suggested could not be justified and should not be necessary to put together the level of bid required. “For bidders who put forward credible propositions and meet the criteria set out in the bidding guidance, there will be ample opportunity later to discuss their plans with employees.” The spokesman added: “We are asking all bidders to develop their plans on the basis of what they believe will make a viable and sustainable proposition for the site. “This will be based on the financial and commercial information made available about the business, rather than on the basis of Remploy’s existing business model, structures or staffing levels.” A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions confirmed the government is trying to sell the textiles business, which offers supported work to more than 40 disabled people in Dundee. She said: “Remploy is currently in a commercial process, seeking expressions of interest... with the aim of minimising redundancies.” Ministers are acting on the controversial Sayce Report, which recommended workers in supported environments should be found jobs in mainstream employment. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sir, I imagine other readers would have been surprised at Andrew Collins’ complaint (letters, January 18) that Scotland doesn’t charge higher taxes because Holyrood is not close to our people. That Scotland is somehow unable to charge the higher taxes that our Scandinavian neighbours charge. Scotland’s Parliament can levy higher taxes already. Our Holyrood parliament has been able to levy higher taxes since its foundation in 1999. Our parliament could have raised a higher rate of tax at any time since. We might have used those taxes to at least maintain services instead of cutting them. But the majority SNP government has rejected even maintained tax rates. Far from raising extra revenues Holyrood has forced local councils to freeze council taxes for years. That freeze has led to the degradation of local services. It’s an “independence” of a kind. Would creating a brand new Scotland lead to a restoration, or even increase in taxes? We don’t know for sure. The SNP’s 649-page manifesto promises a big cut in the taxes our wealthiest companies pay. A tax cut to well below the tax rates in Scandinavian countries. The SNP forecasts Scotland’s revenues from future oil field developments will enable Holyrood to cut taxes, even though Norway has to charge a 28% income tax rate that’s 40% more tax than we pay now. That higher tax is because Norway’s oil income continues to fall. Just as the tax revenues from Scotland’s undersea wells are set to fall and as our operating costs rise steeply. Andrew Dundas. 34 Ross Avenue, Perth. Committed to backing them Sir, Since April 2012, I have been working hard to mitigate the effects of the UK Government closure of Remploy factories in Scotland and during this process I visited the factories in Dundee, as well as Leven, Cowdenbeath, Stirling and Clydebank. The staff I met convinced me you will not get a better workforce of hard-working people. Scotland owes it to them to do all we can to secure their future and that of all Scotland’s supported businesses. That is why I was delighted to announce the opening of the Haven PTS factory in Stirling, which has taken on 26 ex-Remploy employees, who will manufacture nurses’ uniforms along with other high-quality protective workwear and marine safety wear. The decision on which sites to operate from was entirely for the Rehab Group, who own Haven PTS Ltd. The NHS contact was secured with many other contracts from the public sector, and we are working hard to deliver more. I am now spearheading work for all 19 supported business in Scotland, including Dovetail in Dundee. I am also campaigning against UK Government plans which could see the removal of Workchoice funding for supported business places. Workchoice provides wage subsidies for nearly 580 places for disabled people in those businesses and I would urge anyone with an interest in backing supported businesses to oppose the removal of this funding. We continue to work with ex-Remploy workers in Dundee through the Partnership Action for Continued Employment (PACE), and a comprehensive package of support is in place, including the availability of a recruitment incentive of up to £5000 for employers recruiting ex-Remploy workers. Our commitment to the supported business workforce in Dundee has never wavered, and I am determined that we continue to identify opportunities for the city. Fergus Ewing. Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism. Promoting driver fitness? Sir, The City of Perth seems more interested in promoting fitness for drivers than spending money on parking infrastructure. One of the meters near the North Inch has been out of action for many weeks and some of those who park near it have to walk at least an extra 100 yards to the other meter. Garry Barnett. The Garden House, Campsie Hill, Guildtown, Perth. So much for saving money Sir, I refer to another article in The Courier, January 17, describing Fife Council’s attempts to cut costs and would like to draw the public’s attention to the following. The vast majority of the vehicles used by Fife Council are leased and quite a few of their employees are now on contracts of 30 hours a week. In many cases, these employees complete their contracted hours over four days. They then take these vehicles home with them and there they stay, until they begin work again. It must cost a fortune to have three days’ lease of these vehicles while they lie about unused. Certainly no private employer would ever consider such an expensive waste of use of vehicles which are on lease to them. I was under the impression that the idea of centralising operations would mean that the vehicles would be returned to the depot at Bankhead, Glenrothes, but this is not the case. Many are taken home by Fife Council employees. And before Fife Council write to say they are taken home for use in the event of emergencies, I would like to point out that they are used by non-emergency employees such as housing and parks and gardens employees. So much for their attempts at saving money. Allan Murray. 44 Napier Road, Glenrothes. Counter-productive Sir, Alan Hinnrichs (letters column, January 17) writes from a secular viewpoint on the involvement of religious representatives on education bodies in Scotland. He feels this is an obscenity. Then, in the online comments section he uses the term “theist loon” whilst accusing others of bigotry. I was curious to know if this is the general term Mr Hinnrichs uses for anyone who professes a belief, or is it a specific group he is commenting on? Would he, for example, describe Martin Luther King Jr, Oscar Romero or Peter Benenson as such? Mr Hinnrichs certainly seems to relish offending anyone religious but it seems to me a little counter-productive. If he truly wishes to bring about the social change he genuinely seems to want, maybe he should put some of his own prejudices aside and stop alienating people who agree with him on numerous other issues. Anne Hinojosa. 12 Bowling Green Road, Markinch. Burns and what he might think of independence Sir, I refer to Will Lyon’s recent article in The Courier regarding Robert Crawford’s views on Robert Burns’ probable leanings regarding the forthcoming independence referendum. It would appear that the professor is a believer in the Yes campaign as he “picked through the bard’s works with a fine toothcomb” without consideration of the undermentioned poem. I cannot imagine an independent and critical man like Burns would disrespect himself “to make loyal noises” when all he had to do was keep quiet to keep “his well-paid job”. I therefore draw the professor’s attention to the missed extract from the Dumfries Volunteers composed in 1795. O, let us not like snarling tykes, In wrangling be divided Till slap! Come in an unco loon, And wi a rung decided it, Be Britain still to Britain true. Amang ourselves united For never but by British hands Maun British wrangs be righted. D Fraser. Primrosebank, 1 Rannoch Road, Aberfeldy. Stock must be maintained Sir, Complaints about “£100k and rising wasted” on the upkeep of our City Hall (Courier, January 18), are entirely misplaced, since, even if such expenditure was required annually rather than over a good few years, it would be nearly half a century before enough money accumulated to meet the costs of P&KCouncil’s barmy scheme for the hall’s environmentally filthy demolition, a hazard to health, and the creation of the near-useless, roofless empty space they want, called a civic square. We must maintain our building stock or we’d face a ruined city, which would surely embarass even Perth and Kinross Council! (Dr) Charles Wardrop. 111 Viewlands Road West, Perth. Drain system to save money Sir, With regard to your article, £100k wasted on hall upkeep, January 18. There is a simple answer to address the major part of this unnecessary bill drain the system! Why wasn’t this done in 2005? David Cockburn. ex-Perth City Architect, Pen cairn, Findo Gask, Perth. Soap storyline got it right Sir, I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the sensitivity and dignity in the way in which Coronation Street handled the whole issue of the character Hayley dealing with pancreatic cancer and then choosing to end her own life. It was very well acted and brought to the fore the issue of pancreatic cancer, about which very little is known. What is known is that it has an appalling survival rate. It also dealt with the issue of suicide, which is still a major taboo. I think people worrying about copycat acts are being overly concerned as no details of the suicide were shown. Both characters deserve an award for the way they performed their roles. Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth.
First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.
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.
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
A senior MP has issued a fresh warning about “state-sponsored destitution” amid claims of a “gaping hole” in the welfare system.Figures uncovered by Labour’s Frank Field found that nearly 200,000 applications were made for advances on working age benefits in 2016, the latest year for which figures are available.However, only around 100,000 advances were paid to claimants, according to Department for Work and Pensions statistics.Ministers say a large proportion of claimants get paid their main benefit before they need an advance, and the department was not aware of anyone not getting an advance when they need one.Mr Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee, said: “These data reveal a gaping hole in the country’s safety net.“Nearly 200,000 people reached out for the lifeline of emergency payments in 2016, yet the DWP has only a vague idea of how many managed successfully to do so.“What of the tens of thousands of people not captured by these data? Were they the latest victims of state-sponsored destitution?”Ministers have fought off criticism over delays in paying people Universal Credit by saying claimants can apply for an advance.The 2016 figures cover working age benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.The figures obtained by Mr Field through a written parliamentary question show there were 197,514 applications for advances, and 98,633 people were paid.“Data is also not available for unsuccessful applications and the difference between ‘received’ and ‘awarded’ applications in the table above does not equate to unsuccessful applications,” minister Alok Sharma said in response to Mr Field’s question.“This is because there are a large proportion of applications in which the primary benefit is paid, which negates the need for a short term benefit advance.”A DWP spokeswoman added: “We are not aware of anyone not getting an advance on their benefit when they need one, and we signpost people who need extra help to other support.”
Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - On Sunday I enjoyed my last flight from Belfast to Dundee, as these flights are due to end on December 2. It seems ironic at a time of Dundee seeking UK City of Culture status that it has proved impossible to sustain air links with Belfast and Birmingham. I have taught students from Northern Ireland over many years and, universally, they regretted being unable to use this flight due to the high cost. This factor also deterred their parents and extended family members visiting more frequently. While this represents only anecdotal evidence, it begs the question how an airline serving an area with three universities heavily populated by NI students was unable or unwilling to exploit this most obvious of markets. The issue became quite stark for me when I attended a meeting in Belfast and my colleague from Birmingham paid less than half the fare I paid with the same airline. I accept that airline costs are perhaps more complex than a simple mind like mine can appreciate, but wish to add my voice to the many who will miss this service and see its removal as a backward step when we should be embracing and preparing for the very positive changes likely to derive from the V&A. Dr Brenda Gillies.12 Victoria Street,Newport. Care comes before profit Sir, - The council that slashed services for the elderly (in Fife) was led by one Peter Grant. He now has the audacity to criticise Labour's policy of creating a care village for older people. That plan is both interesting and admirable and relieves all of us from worrying about the privatisation of elderly care. A care village would operate with 12-15 bed areas and that is preferable to the vast, solely profit-making, granny farms that privatisation would have provided. Privatisation means concentrating on profits. Mr Grant claims care workers will all be low paid. Does he not know that virtually all care jobs in private homes only get the minimum wage level? Mr Grant and his SNP and Lib Dem colleagues increased home care charges from £4 a week to £11 an hour. On even one hour of care a day, that is more than 1800% of an increase. The shopping and pension collection was increased to £7 before it was completely cut. What a caring lot the SNP and Lib Dems are. Support services have to be available to enable caring families to keep loved ones in community settings for as long as possible. If that becomes impossible, then at least to ensure that residents in homes will be cared for and treated with respect. Allowing profit to be any sort of justification would be inhumane in the extreme. Choose privatisation and you get blatant profiteering. The essential support for care at home are the home carers, people who come out in all weather and give support and are always cheery and encouraging. I willingly admit to benefiting from their invaluable help. Agnes Joyce Smith. 4 Lime Grove,Methil,Leven. Tax taps could be turned off Sir, - The recent decision by the judges at the Rangers tax tribunal is an interesting one. If employers are to be allowed to reward employees with "loans", deposited off shore in tax havens, instead of by wages and salaries (taxed), then what about all employers and employees? I believe that a precedent has been set. Let us hope that HMRC pursues its appeal with vigour and that the UK Government urgently reviews tax laws, before the Treasury finds taps from the private sector being turned off legally. A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Not under my control at all Sir, - Your piece on direct debits reminded me of a problem I had when I moved to a smaller house and wished to reduce my direct debit from my RBS account to Scottish Hydro Electric. I wrote to RBS to ask them to do this and was told the instruction had to come from Scottish Hydro Electric, not me. I had thought I was in control of my own finances. Garry Barnett.The Garden House,Campsie Hill,Guildtown,Perth. Decision is disgraceful Sir, - The decision by Rotherham's Labour-run social services to remove children from foster carers because they are members of UKIP is disgraceful. This is Britain, not some tinpot communist dictatorship. God forbid that the Labour Party in its present form ever runs this country again. Stuff their political correctness. George Aimer.82 Kinghorne Road,Dundee. How do they know this? Sir, - How does a council's social work service know which party someone is a member of? Does your local council have a record of the party of which you may be a member? Mike Scott-Hayward.Chairman UKIP Scotland.Sawmill House,Kemback Bridge,Fife. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to email@example.com or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.
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.
The fate of Tayside and Fife's closure-threatened Remploy factories could be known in a matter of weeks. More than 100 disabled people working for the firm in Dundee, Leven and Cowdenbeath have feared for their future since the launch of a UK Government consultation which could result in the factories' closure. With 54 sites across the UK, Remploy is seen as a lifeline for hundreds of employees who say they would otherwise find it impossible to get work. The consultation, due to end on Monday, follows recommendations made in the Sayce report that government support for segregated employment should be phased out in favour of helping disabled people find jobs in the general labour market. The report said Remploy could be spun out of the public sector but pointed out none of the businesses were currently profitable. With MPs due to begin examining the many hundreds of consultation responses next week, Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said the aim was to look at how the money earmarked for helping disabled people into work could be used more effectively. In her only interview with a Scottish newspaper, Ms Miller told The Courier supporting people in Remploy factories costs the Government £25,000 a head. "We could be using that money more effectively and potentially getting 35,000 extra people into supported employment," she said. "We have protected the budget we have to support severely disabled people into employment and it's really important we are helping as many people as we can. "Half of all disabled people in the UK are not in employment, yet most want to be. "It's important people have the right support to be able to get into employment and stay in employment, whether it is people with a physical disability, a learning disability or a mental health problem. "I want to make sure people working in Remploy factories are getting the right support that's personal to them to get a job and stay in a job." Remploy also runs an employment support service which Ms Miller said had a good track record in Scotland of helping people with disabilities into mainstream work. "We want to take time to ensure the many hundreds of replies we have had to the consultation are examined in detail but we also know it is important we respond to the consultation as soon as we are able," she said. "I was in Leven recently talking to the managers of the facility there and they are keen to know the thoughts on the way forward as soon as possible. "We will be trying to do that in the coming weeks." Image PA.