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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...

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.

Business news

Prestigious BP oil contract for Dundee project management training company

June 7 2017

Dundee-headquartered training provider 20/20 Business Insight has won a prestigious contract with one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies. The Broughty Ferry-based company, which also has offices in Aberdeen, London and the USA, has been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. Ironically, the prestigious account has been won after 20/20 stepped away from its previous focus almost entirely on the oil and gas sector – adding BP to a diverse client portfolio that now includes Wood Group, Centrica, Balfour Beatty, British Aerospace, Hinckley Point, Network Rail, Diageo and Wm Grant. Chief executive officer Tony Marks, who said the new status came off the back of recent big contract wins within the nuclear power industry, added: “20|20 are delighted to have been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. “It’s a great team performance in demonstrating our international capability and upstream oil industry experience to win this prestigious account.” 20|20 Business Insight, which employs 26 staff and had revenues of £2.84 million last year, is a full service, project management, business and leadership training and consulting company who deliver training courses and consulting services throughout the world. It is the largest independent provider of project management training courses in the UK. The consulting team work with companies to analyse competence baselines and deliver maturity assessments, design bespoke and accredited training programmes, create handbooks and manuals, implement project management procedures and protocols and then measure and report effectiveness. Mr Marks said that crucially, they had the ability to deliver internationally-accredited training and consulting anywhere in the world, primarily in oil and gas, engineering and construction, utilities, nuclear, food and drink However, despite an international outlook, they remained proud to be rooted in Dundee. “We are big fans of Dundee and supporters of the Tay Cities Deal to bring jobs, including de-commissioning, to Dundee,” he added. “When we started in 2003, we were almost exclusively in the oil and gas sector before diversifying into other sectors. We were lucky because two years ago the oil and gas sector started to decline, and accounts for around 10% of the work we do now.” Mr Marks has been involved in business for 27 years and has seen four or five cycles based on the oil barrel price changing. During that period, the level of business has come back smaller each time. “So it’s quite interesting we are back in the oil and gas sector now,” he added. He said the BP deal had been going on behind the scenes for nine months and “should mean quite a jump in business for us.” He added: “It’s not a guarantee of any level of work. But the revenue should be significant and comes off the back of other big contract wins.”


‘We appear to have a private police force’ Community events priced out by Police Scotland charges

May 25 2015

Scores of traditional community events across Fife could be in jeopardy thanks to the introduction of new charges. The Courier has learned of serious concern for the future of parades, galas and Highland games as cash-strapped committees struggle to raise several hundred pounds worth of extra funds. News they may have to stump up for policing and road closures has come as a bombshell to groups who have been organising local events for decades. And it has led to accusations of a two-tier policing system, with only the rich able to afford their special days. Councillor Bob Young, chairman of Fife licensing committee, said: “It’s a big problem because what we appear to have now is a private police force. “If you’re wealthy enough like the Open golf you will be able to pay for policing. “If you are a village Highland games or a children’s parade, will you be able to pay for their services?” Mr Young said. The charges for parades are coming from Fife Council to pay for temporary road closure orders and Police Scotland said it was nothing to do with them. But Mr Young said the local authority was acting on police instruction and was being forced to pass the cost on. Cowdenbeath Civic Week Committee has already been hit with a bill for £475 to have the High Street closed to traffic for its grand gala day parade on June 20. It will be charged the same amount for its Armistice Day parade in November and the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights the following month. Mr Young added: “We will end up with a two-tier policing system and all these little events will not be able to go ahead. This is the future of policing inScotland.” A police spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland applies a consistent policy of charging for commercial events, regardless of where they take place.” Murray Hannah, of Fife Counciltraffic management, added: “Following Police Scotland advice, a temporary road closure is now needed for all community events where traffic needs to be managed. “Currently, unless the event is organised by a registered charity, these costs must be met by the event organisers.”

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath bingo boss wins jackpot at employment tribunal

January 4 2013

AN ARBROATH bingo hall general manager has won over £44,000 for being unfairly dismissed. Marie Watkins (44), of Commerce Street, had worked for the Gala Coral Group for 20 years and was sacked because she was not thought by the company to be capable of fulfilling new responsibilities. An employment tribunal in Dundee did not agree she wasn’t able to do her new job and was unhappy the company didn’t explore redeploying her in another role. They also questioned why her line manager who decided to sack her wasn’t called by Gala to give evidence. The tribunal heard Ms Watkins had to be more hands-on than other managers because the club in the High Street was smaller than other Gala outlets. She often worked for longer hours than she was paid for. She was initially well-regarded, and on several occasions had won the company’s regional manager of the year prize. In January 2011 Gala brought in a new performance measurement system for staff, and a review of business reported the Arbroath Gala club was doing less well. There was a problem at the Arbroath club because staff who had transferred from the former Gala club at Montrose had negative feelings about the company and there was a concern within the Arbroath club that it would follow Montrose and be closed. In April 2011 Ms Watkins attended a meeting with her line manager, Mike Watret, and human resources business manager, Samantha Cundle, about her performance and to identify areas for improvement. Her performance was monitored and management felt she did not make sufficient progress. She went through various warning stages and in February 2012 a decision was taken to dismiss her. The tribunal said their main difficulty in the case was that Gala chose not to lead evidence from Mr Watret, who was the key person in the organisation who had been involved in the decision to review the performance of and dismiss Ms Watkins. Gala relied instead on the evidence of Ms Cundle who had been involved in early, but not in all stages of the dismissal. They found her a confident witness when advising of Gala’s procedures, but less confident and reliable when it came to being precise about what happened in the case. They detected that on various occasions she stated that something had occurred on the basis she believed it must have occurred because it should have occurred. The tribunal were left with a feeling that Ms Cundle “would say whatever she felt would most advance the employer’s case.” Gala sought to justify the dismissal on the basis Mr Watret believed Ms Watkins was not able to manage her club operation managers in the way the company wished. The tribunal considered it was not within the range of responses of a reasonable employer to dismiss someone like Ms Watkins without asking if she would consider redeployment. At its highest the respondents’ position appeared to be that they considered the role of general manager had altered to the extent that the claimant was no longer capable of carrying it out. “If this were the case (which we do not accept) then any reasonable employer would explore with the employee the possibility that the employee might accept redeployment to a lesser role.” The tribunal ruled that the dismissal was unfair, and Gala then tried to limit the compensation by contending that she had contributing to her dismissal by her conduct. The tribunal did not agree. They did feel that if Ms Watkins had stood up for herself against her unfair treatment she may not have been dismissed. Her compensation from the Gala Coral Group of Nottingham was calculated at a total of £44,635.62. aargo@thecourier.co.uk


Runners dig deep at 20th annual Kelty coal race

June 30 2014

A repeat men’s winner and a first-time women’s champion emerged from the black stuff at the 20th annual Kelty coal race. Champions Graeme Crane and Stacey Lockhart revealed their regular workouts at Dunfermline gym Crossfit Fife were what propelled them to victory. This is the second year in succession that both the adult winners in the Scottish Coal Carrying Championship have come from the Dunfermline gym. Held each year as part of Kelty gala day, the race is a test of endurance which sees competitors lug sacks of coal a kilometre through the town centre. Photo gallery: 20th annual Kelty coal race Male entrants carry 50kg sacks and the women 25kg. Mr Crane, 36, from Dunfermline, said: “I used to live here and would see guys doing it all the time. “It is a really fun event and having done it last year I knew what was coming. Sometimes though you do forget how hard it really is and when you hit the hills that is when it becomes a bit more painful. “I only did it for the first time last year. There is a great community here and it is a really fun race. “I have never run a race like it.” Stacey Lockhart, 27, of Cowdenbeath, said: “This is the best I’ve ever done. “I did it in 2011 and last year I came fifth. I thought I had a chance but I knew there were some good runners in it this year. “The second hill was the toughest part and my legs went a bit funny. “There are great crowds who come out to cheer us on and it’s the best gala I’ve been to. I’ll definitely be back next year.” Cowdenbeath FC mascot Bluebell the Coo won the mascot race for the second year in succession.

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

Readers' letters

READERS’ LETTERS: Size and competition – a perfect storm

January 22 2018

Sir, – Derek Farmer is right to identify size as a factor in the collapse of facilities management and construction company Carillion, as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland et al, but there’s a further factor to these failures: lack of competition. This situation is aided and abetted by governments of every colour. The best explanation is that governments find it more convenient to deal with a small number of big firms than a mass of small ones. And government ministers probably prefer being seen with the heads of multinational corporations rather than small business bosses. The result is a reduction in competition, sometimes to the point where the chosen behemoths start to believe in their own invulnerability. Pride before a fall. Also, competition begets improvement. And if one competitor among many fails and dies, it’s relatively easy to deal with the pieces left behind, and for another business to step into the gap left by a failed company. The lack of competitors is why nationalisation rarely works well. The problem isn’t public ownership, as any businesses can get it right or get it wrong. The problem is that fair competition is impossible once the state is one of the players. Dave Dempsey, 7 Carlingnose Park, North Queensferry.   We must save Cowdenbeath Sir, – In regards to Bob Taylor’s letter to The Courier about Cowdenbeath, “Town in urgent need of revival” (January 2), I completely agree with all he says and more. I have been trying every which way I can to change/alter or force the council to give information regarding the condition of our High Street. Our nickname – the “Chicago of Fife” – was given to us approximately 120 years ago. It was intended for townsfolk to have civic pride in their town, especially when Town House was built, and all the wide pavements made it feel more like a the ‘city’. I have bombarded councils, councillors and the media about the special need to protect our Town House, as it is also a listed building. I too feel like Mr Taylor. It is as if the council and authorities are forgetting about Cowdenbeath. Painting murals and shop shutters is a waste of time and money. It just makes it look as if they care and are making an effort. The most obvious and, actually, cheapest things to achieve are not being done. My years of making suggestions to council, and through the media, have resulted in nothing. You feel as though they are going to let Cowdenbeath die. Towns around us seem to be boosted – why ignore Cowdenbeath? It deserves priority attention. There is no excuse for promises of work that aren’t delivered, and yet another paint job. Our priority should be to restore Cowdenbeath. No false promises any more. Maureen Kennedy, 14 Thistle Street, Cowdenbeath.   Disgust at Sheku Bayoh case Sir, – I and others, I am sure, must be disgusted at the way the Sheku Bayoh shenanigans have been handled by the police, Crown Office and politicians. The only way to describe it is an act of evil, carried out by people right across the board who can only be described as a disgrace to the human race – and that is being kind to them. When you look at the squabbling between the politicians regarding the NHS, police bosses, Brexit etc, it comes as no shock. It is all a shambles and the public are paying for it in many ways. Talk about elections, we ought to get rid of the lot of them and start over again. Roy R M McIntosh, 50 Victoria Road, Falkirk.   When winter really was hard Sir, – It is claimed that this may be the worst winter in eight years. It certainly is a repeat of what I term an old-fashioned winter and at my age of 71 I can recall many that lived up to expectation. Now, in this current bad spell, Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport, apologises as motorists are caught out by snow, but we all see the weather forecasts. I look back on the 19 years I cycled the A9 from Bankfoot to Luncarty to my place of work, a distance of almost five miles. On a bicycle I was exposed to everything nature flung at me, leaving home at 5.20am for a 6am start. I endured icy roads, cycling over slush, spray from passing traffic, numb hands, and now and then the bike and I parted company as we became victims of the ice. When I reached my workplace and pulled my balaclava off, ice came with it. I endured this for almost 20 years, and others throughout the country faced the same thing. You had to do it. No work, no pay. Yes indeed, winter has its miseries, although the most recent ones have been lenient. But, it seems, unlike other countries with cold winters, we can’t cope in the same way any more. Thomas Brown, 3 Church Place, Bankfoot.   Scotland’s NHS in better health Sir, – I was surprised to read the article by Jenny Hjul, “SNP has us in poor health” (January 17). She must be aware that the Scottish Government is doing a better job of running the NHS here with the same resources than Westminster has managed to do in England. Yes, there are problems, but things are much worse south of the border and will get even worse with a Tory-imposed Brexit. Andrew Collins, Ladyburn House, Skinners Steps, Cupar.   UK trade is not to be sneezed at Sir, – One of the SNP’s main arguments in favour of the EU is that, with 500 million consumers, it is “the world’s biggest trading bloc”. Scotland’s £13 billion exports to the EU equate to £26 per person. But our £50bn exports to the 60m consumers in the UK is worth £833 per person. The usual response to the SNP argument is that our exports to the UK are four times our exports to the EU but, in fact, based on exports per person, the UK market is 32 times as lucrative as the EU. To have the same effect, Scotland’s exports to the EU would have to be around a fantastic £400bn. Allan Sutherland, 1 Willow Row, Stonehaven.   A small tax to ease the burden Sir, – Certain economic commentators stress improving productivity as the vital element in securing growth and prosperity for us all, and suggest that the UK economy lags behind that of other leading nations because the average UK worker is not up to the task. At least these much-maligned people do produce goods for general use, unlike those in the city of London who make fortunes for already-wealthy investment groups by manipulating movement of stocks and shares in what can only be described as the paper or digital economy. To understand how much wealth is involved in this non-productive activity, it is necessary to look at a recent report pointing out the benefits of imposing a financial transaction tax of a mere 0.05% on all stock exchange dealings. It was estimated that this financial transaction tax could raise a staggering £250 billion a year globally, and some £20 billion in the UK itself. By way of comparison it took National Lottery players 20 years to contribute £39bn to good causes. Theresa May has boasted about being fair to us all, and an additional £20bn a year from the non-productive digital manipulators would go a long way to solving our serious social problems without hurting those whose accumulated wealth to date would see them comfortably through the next 100 years. Allan A. MacDougall, 37 Forth Park, Bridge of Allan.

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


Photo finish at Scottish Coal Carrying Championship

June 28 2010

Thousands of people lined the streets of Kelty at the weekend to witness one of the closest finishes to the Scottish Coal Carrying Championships the west Fife village has seen. A photo finish separated the winner, with the first four men all from west Fife. Despite falling over the line with his coal, Cowdenbeath scaffolder John Sinclair (26) narrowly beat local William Hargreaves. Crowds lined Main Street to watch the 38 men and seven women take part. Mr Sinclair, who finished in 4 mins 20 secs, said he was "exhausted" after the race, which also featured Mr Hargreaves' brother John last year's champion and John Hunter, of Scarborough, who has won the World Coal Carrying Championships in Yorkshire. Susan Wallace, from Milnathort, finished first in the women's event. She finished second last year and takes the title from Hazel Porter, of Dunfermline, who could not take part as she is pregnant. Ewan McPherson, also of Kelty, finished third, with Mr Hunter coming fourth. Lochs councillor Alex Rowley said he was "delighted" with the race. The male competitors carry a 50kg sack of coal over a 1k course, while the women carry a 25kg bag. The championships were followed by the Kelty Gala, with a parade through the town.