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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...


Demolition of Alexander Street multis herald start of new era for city

August 1 2011

The demolition of the Alexander Street multis has been hailed as the start of a new era for the Maxwelltown area of Dundee. Elaine Zwirlein, director of housing with Dundee City Council, admits that while it was sad to see a part of the city's history disappear in a cloud of dust, the opportunities presented by the collapse of the four towers are too good to be ignored. The site of the former blocks is set to be offered up to developers to provide more than 200 new homes for the Hilltown area, a move many hope will help change perceptions of the community. With Dundee undergoing a makeover as work on the waterfront regeneration project takes place, Mrs Zwirlein emphasised the removal of the four multis could mark an exciting new beginning for the Coldside area of the city. She said, "Obviously it is sad to see the multis go in some ways, but the city is looking to the future now. We have an opportunity to regenerate this site and put 240 new homes up on this land. "These homes are desperately needed in the city homes built for families. Hopefully when that happens then they might be able to bring people who have left the area back." Dundee City Council awarded contracts worth £3.7m to Safedem in order to demolish the Alexander Street blocks. Praising everyone involved in yesterday's demolition, Mrs Zwirlein added, "I'm delighted with how everything has gone it went really well."


Dallfield multis to get makeover in green scheme

February 16 2011

The Dallfield multi-storey flats are to be renovated, with Dundee City Council entering into a partnership with Scottish Gas through a government scheme to help tenants save up to £300 a year on their heating bills. The housing committee on Monday night agreed a report from housing director Elaine Zwirlein which will allow people in the Dallfield development and associated low-rise flats to benefit from upgraded homes which are more energy efficient. Scottish Gas is working under the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), which will see thousands of homes across Scotland receive whole house energy makeovers that will lead to major savings for families. Nearly 350 flats managed by Dundee City Council will receive a range of energy saving measures. Preparatory work in Dallfield started in December and is being carried out as part of the CESP, which is a joint initiative between the government, energy suppliers and power generators to help low-income communities.Elaine Zwirlein said on Tuesday, "The partnership with Scottish Gas will result in a substantial investment that will involve installing an insulated render that will keep flats warmer, reduce heat-loss through walls and give the blocks a whole new appearance. "The proposed district heating system will make a real difference to tenants by making their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable to live in, with dramatically lower heating bills. "Tenants can also look forward to modern kitchens and bathrooms being installed. "This project complements other management initiatives in the Dallfield area including local management initiatives, tightening up of tenancy conditions, offering housing support packages to those who want them, all designed to prevent anti-social behaviour and restore residents' confidence in the area." At Monday night's meeting SNP councillor Ken Lynn said, "I'm delighted to see this after so many of our other multi-storey buildings in the city have been demolished. It's really great news. "I know the people who live there like their flats." Labour councillor Mohammed Asif sought an assurance from the housing director that tenants on the 13th and 14th floors would not suffer previous problems of lack of hot water and asked for details on payment methods for their electricity and gas supplies. Ms Zwirlein told him they were in negotiations with sub-contractors that would ensure good hot water pressure and a much improved, cheaper system for heating and hot water. She added that officers were currently looking at the various options for payment methods. In answer to a question from Lochee councillor Tom Ferguson as to whether there would be similar plans for the remaining "long-suffering Lochee multi tenants," housing convener Jimmy Black said they had changed from previous demolition plans. "We're looking at refurbishing them and giving them a longer life," he said. "There will be progress soon but we're not quite there yet."

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.


‘Sorry’ – council chiefs apologise for Dundee bins chaos

August 22 2017

The chief executive of Dundee City Council took the unprecedented step of apologising for the bins crisis that left rubbish uncollected across swathes of the city. David Martin and the executive director of neighbourhood services, Elaine Zwirlein, both issued full apologies to city residents and councillors for the disastrous roll-out of the new recycling scheme in some parts of Dundee. A report before the neighbourhood resources committee revealed thousands of properties had not had rubbish collected during the first week of the roll-out because suppliers had failed to provide hundreds of bins. The committee also heard how some refuse collection staff were abused in the street because of the issues, while councillors were reportedly chased by residents wanting to complain about the bins. Mr Martin said: “The council has high expectations of our services and I think when things go wrong it is important to say so, acknowledge it and try to put it right. “We got things quite wrong and it is important to apologise for it. “We’d like to thank residents for telling us where things were going wrong and where they were less wrong.” He added: “The measure of a good and confident public organisation is to put its hands up. We are trying to explain to members where things went wrong and are trying to learn from it.” Mr Martin also said committee convener Kevin Cordell had taken unfair “political flak” for the affair, when the failures had been “operational”. Kevin Cordell admitted the phase four roll-out of the recycling scheme, which asks residents to sort rubbish into different types of recycling bins had “not been to the standard we expect or that council tax payers deserve”. He added: “Everyone in the council shares the frustration of people in our communities. But we recognise the importance of recycling and hope recent events will not put people off.” He said the extension of the recycling scheme to other areas would not go forward until officers are satisfied all problems have been fixed. Labour councillor Richard McCready said the administration had ignored warnings from his party last year that the proposed roll-out had been too ambitious. There was praise for how council staff had dealt with the thousands of complaints they had received and Mr Cordell said there are signs the new system is bedding in and improving recycling rates. But Labour councillor Michael Marra said: “A 4% upturn for pockets of chaos appears a meagre return.” Conservative Phillip Scott said the council had appeared “amateurish”.   Comment: 'Sorry' not so hard after all It turns out apologies are quite like buses: you wait ages for one to come along and then two do at once. Council boss David Martin and neighbourhood resources head honcho Elaine Zwirlein both apologised for the problems residents in the city have experienced as a result of the latest phase of the city’s recycling scheme. Unlike elected members, council officers are rarely directly in the firing line so last night’s proceedings must have been uncomfortable for both. Given how badly wrong things have gone since the phase four roll-out began at the end of June, they will be hoping it marks if not the end of the problems altogether, the turning of a corner. Committee convener Kevin Cordell will certainly hope so. He looked a nervous man before proceedings began but handled what could have been a fractious debate well and even found himself absolved of any blame by the council’s chief executive. That didn’t convince opposition members, but he’ll be hoping it will be enough to convince residents things are getting back on track.


Elderly hardest hit by Dundee’s fuel poverty crisis

November 9 2015

Dundee’s elderly are bearing the brunt of the fuel poverty crisis gripping the city and communities across Scotland. Pensioners have been among the hardest hit by welfare reform and rising energy costs as hundreds of households have plunged into difficulties in recent years. They now account for almost 60% of all households in fuel poverty, which is particularly worrying at this time of year, when the ability to turn on heating can be the difference between life and death. Dundee City Council has spent tens of millions of pounds in recent years to address the problem of fuel poverty, but despite its wide-ranging and effective measures, fuel poverty has nonetheless risen to 42% across the city. That compares unfavourably with the Scottish average, which is at 36%. The Scottish Government has said it is “very concerned” about rising fuel poverty levels, which make it increasingly unlikely that Scotland will meet its target of “eradicating fuel poverty by 2016”. The council will meet this evening to debate the issue and elected members will be asked to agree to a new fuel poverty action plan. In her report to the council’s Housing Committee, the executive director of Neighbourhood Services, Elaine Zwirlein, lays bare the scale of the problem. “Despite all efforts by the Dundee Energy Efficiency Partnership (DEEAP), the corporate strategy, funding from fuel companies and Government strategies, fuel poverty levels in Dundee and across Scotland continue to rise,” she writes. “Escalating fuel prices, combined with welfare reform make improving the situation a huge challenge for all local authorities.” Ms Zwirlein added: “Research recently submitted to the Scottish Government showed that fuel poverty affects health and educational attainment and increases winter deaths in the UK. “Welfare reform, combined with the effects of rising household fuel bills, will continue to increase the pressures on household incomes for Dundee’s poorest households.”

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

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


Dundee sets target of 600 new affordable family homes

August 17 2013

More than 600 affordable homes for families will be built in Dundee over the next five years. A new city council housing strategy explains that it will work with housing associations, private developers and the National Housing Trust to carry out the projects. Council housing director Elaine Zwirlein said: “Dundee continues to make progress on improving local environments across various geographical areas of the city, through a range of innovative and effective ways. “Unpopular house types have been, and continue to be, demolished to make way for new types of houses and local amenities more fitting to 21st Century lifestyle while matching expressed housing needs and aspirations. “This tackles the problem of supply and demand through rebalancing the housing supply chain and improvement of existing core stock.” Mill o’ Mains, Whitfield, Lochee, Hilltown, Douglas and Fintry will all benefit from the investment. Ms Zwirlein said: “It was agreed that sites within the regeneration areas of the city should be awarded the highest priority. “There is recognition that opportunities to improve housing choice will arise in other neighbourhoods, which should be taken to ensure existing stable neighbourhoods do not deteriorate. “The plan has identified sufficient sites which can meet the need for affordable housing.” The Scottish Government is providing an extra £1.5 million in affordable housing supply subsidy to the city council. A total of £9 million will be available to build 170 homes for rent by 2015. The strategy says: “The council will work with partners to ensure that all new-build properties constructed within the investment programme will meet or surpass the current building regulations and that energy efficiency measures such as insulation, solar energy, wind power or other suitable measures are integrated. “This will assist in reducing carbon emissions, address fuel poverty and ensure that tenants live in warm, affordable homes.” However, the document cautions that funding for affordable rented housing will remain tight over the strategy period and that “significant challenges” will have to be faced to provide affordable housing with a reducing level of grant. A report on the housing strategy will be considered by councillors at a meeting on Monday.


Dundee expecting ‘rocky’ time with changes to housing benefit payments

June 12 2012

Councillors have been warned there are ''rocky patches'' ahead for rent collection in Dundee. Housing convener Jimmy Black said changes to the housing benefit system, which would see direct payments made to tenants, could have an impact on rent arrears. The latest figures show 10% of the rent owed to the city council is in arrears, compared to the Scottish average of 6.1%. Mr Black said he is not happy with the current performance, but there is an improvement plan in place. However, the housing benefit change might mean more tenants will delay payments. ''It's going to be quite a shock for people who are claiming housing benefit at the moment and we are concerned,'' he told the council's housing committee. Housing director Elaine Zwirlein explained that Dundee's socio-economic position meant it would be ''quite a challenge'' to get the arrears level down to the average. Councillor Fraser Macpherson suggested it would be better to measure the council's performance against comparable local authorities.