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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...

Readers' letters

READERS’ LETTERS: Time for standards review in third sector

February 20 2018

Sir, – Isn’t it ironic that, in light of the Oxfam controversy, the Charity Commission is launching an investigation into last month’s antics at the Presidents Club dinner (Courier, February 17)? In a flurry of indignation, many charities announced they would not be accepting a donation from the club. A good deal of criticism was hurled at the club’s organisers and the business community about the way they treated women. Well, what a difference a few weeks make. Some people are now calling into question the value of foreign aid, at all. It would be wrong, though, to condemn the entire charity sector because of the disgraceful behaviour of some of their organisers in Haiti and elsewhere. What is certainly needed is a review of standards and ethics within it. This might extend to a look at conditions in which voluntary workers operate, sometimes in very difficult conditions. Is it right that the sector can pay large amounts of money to its senior personnel when so many who deserve a wage get nothing (except, no doubt, the satisfaction of serving a cause in which they believe)? The International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, is right to point out what might happen if the charities refuse to change. We still need to recognise that if we believe in foreign aid, they play a vital role in ensuring it is effective. Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.   NHS failings not hackers’ fault Sir, – No cyber-world expert seriously believes Vladimir Putin is behind the attacks on everything from the US election to our NHS. Apart from the dangers of such an exercise, why would he waste time targeting the UK’s imploding health service? Russia has the same nerds, nuts and Asperger sufferers as the UK who try to hack the Pentagon and surely no one is so mentally challenged as to believe Gary McKinnon was acting on behalf of Tony Blair or Lauri Love is Westminster’s hit-man. Putin has said: “On a state level we haven’t been involved in hacking nor do we plan to get involved in it. Quite the opposite, we are trying to combat it inside Russia.” The belief that he was involved is just politicos and others passing the buck. The fact is, many Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton, Germans lost faith in Angela Merkel after her disastrous open-ended refugee invite, and the NHS doesn’t need any Russian help to make a shambles of its internet services. Rev Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.   Prayers and platitudes Sir, – How much is a child’s life worth? A total of 17 students and staff from a Florida school shot dead by a teenager. Not for the first time has this happened – school shootings has almost reached epidemic proportions in America. What is the response from the American president? Our thoughts go out to the families of those killed, prayers and platitudes. The gun lobby in America hides behind the second amendment; there is just too much money in guns and too many politicians in the pockets of gun manufacturers – their election campaigns are dependent on the gun lobby and gun manufacturers’ money. It is well past time for the ordinary folks of America to say: “Enough is enough”. Teenagers have social media at their fingertips. If their parents are unwilling to do right by them, they should organise a boycott of all schools until the government passes a law that takes guns off the street. Make it plain to American lawmakers. If you cannot make schools safe for us then we are not going to attend school. See how quickly the attitude of politicians changes with millions of chanting teenagers at their door. Walter Hamilton. Flat 3 City Park, City Road, St Andrews.   Mobile chippy is of more use Sir, – So RBS are definitely closing the Montrose branch in June this year, to be replaced by two one-hour visits by a van. The mobile chippy spends longer in Ferryden than that (and probably does more business than the RBS van will ever do). Of the branches that have been reprieved, and to quote RBS: “The vast majority of these branches are in communities where there is no other Royal Bank branch within a nine-mile radius.” Nine miles isn’t far but add the word “radius” and you sneakily double the distance: nine miles from Montrose and nine from Arbroath. Bingo, within the distance quoted. Finally, if anyone wants a good laugh, log on to the RBS webpage and look at “Our Values”. “We have a single, simple purpose – to serve customers well.” Aye, right!!! Iain Bateman. 13 Panter Crescent, Montrose.   This falls under free speech Sir, – I have followed with great interest and more than a little concern the story regarding companies refusing to advertise in a national newspaper following columnist Richard Littlejohn’s views on same-sex couples bringing up children. The focus of Mr Littlejohn’s weekly column – which, incidentally, I’m not a fan of – was former Olympic diver Tom Daley and his gay spouse, Dustin Lance-Black, who are ‘expecting their first child.’ Essentially, Mr Littlejohn does what all effective columnists should: stretch the minds of the readers, while at the same time mischievously stirring up some controversy for good measure. However, despite all the hullabaloo, perhaps I’m in a minority of one in finding Mr Littlejohn’s assertion that a male and female provide the best parental support unit not in the least bit controversial. In fact, and it’s not often I think this of Mr Littlejohn, but sense and logic seem to characterise his latest thinking. He maintains that, despite all the love and affection children may be shown from same-sex parents, there is no substitute for a child being brought up by a female mother and a male father; in other words, conventional parenting. It seems that the LGBQT community has taken exception to this mindset, as have some newspaper advertisers, but can I, in all honesty, ask what is wrong with these comments? I know that many problems in primary and secondary schools can be traced back to children not having decent role models at home, and that teachers, social workers and educational psychologists would endorse this fact. I also think that if we are to cherish freedom of speech and freedom of the press, Mr Littlejohn and his ilk have every right to express an opinion, and those who disagree should be civilized and respectful enough to do so by forwarding argument and evidence in a considered and constructive fashion. Jamie Buchan. Grove Road, Dundee.   Cemetery area ‘most unsightly’ Sir, – You recently published a letter from a Mr Murray of Glenrothes pointing out the unkempt state of Sleepyhillock cemetery in Montrose. I second his views. My family lair has been there for years, as my paternal grandparents and my parents are buried there, together with numerous other relatives. One of the problems appears to be that the tree canopy has grown too large and is shading the ground beneath, preventing the natural growth of grass. This means the area beneath the canopy is turning into a sea of mud, which is most unsightly. Mr Murray also stresses that the council has a duty to maintain the cemetery in good condition, although the current administration appears to be neglecting that duty. Grant Kerr. 3R Orange Lane, Montrose.   Greens’ work helps nation Sir, – My thanks to John Cameron (Letters, February 17) for reminding readers the Scottish Green Party was instrumental in preventing fracking in our beautiful country. The destruction of the environment and the pollution of our waters for generations to come cannot be justified by short-term monetary gain, especially when it would damage the excellent reputation of Scottish food and drink on which so many local jobs rely. Andrew Collins. Ladyburn House, Skinners Steps, Cupar.

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

Scotgold chairman in shock departure

December 17 2014

The Scottish-based non-executive chairman of precious metals prospector Scotgold Resources has resigned from the board after just two months. The shock departure of Sandy Littlejohn, the Glasgow-based managing director of dental laboratories firm DTS Group, came after he informed the company board that he would be unable to take up his portion of unsold shares which he had signed up to underwrite. The tranche of more than 91 million shares are worth $550,000 and were left over after a $3.4m rights issue last month was undersubscribed. A larger tranche of 281.8m shares have been taken up by fellow underwriter and investor Nat le Roux. Scotgold, which is carrying out a technical review of its plan to mine for gold and silver at Cononish in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, said it had accepted Mr Littlejohn’s resignation “with regret” and would now use its “best endeavours” over the next three months to place the unallotted shares. The company saidnon-executive directorPhillip Jackson had agreed to step up and act as chairman on an interim basis. It also added that, having secured 84% of its $3.4m target from the share placing, its medium-term development plans remained unchanged including the redemption of $2.23m of outstanding RMB debt.

Angus & The Mearns

Lady Fraser of Carmyllie receives MBE at Queen’s investiture ceremony

July 5 2017

Lady Fraser of Carmyllie received an MBE for her services to charity in Edinburgh on Tuesday. A ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse saw a host of charitable and celebrity names receive honours ahead of a garden party hosted by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. Lady Fraser is well known for her work with organisations such as the Ninewells Cancer Campaign, the Amy Barnet Skea Trust, Caring for Kids, Tenovus Tayside, Children in Need, and the University of Abertay Foundation. She attended the ceremony with her children, Jane, Jamie and Katie and said she was thrilled to receive the award. “I am particularly delighted to have received it at Holyrood since all of the charitable work that I have done is in Scotland," she said. “It is lovely for me that the family were able to be there with me for the ceremony. “I feel my award reflects the hard work that has been out in by so many dedicated people I have been fortunate enough to work with.” Poet laureate Professor Carol Ann Duffy met the Queen after being made a dame in the New Year Honours List in December 2014. Wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid was made an MBE for services to the sport, which he received in the latest New Year Honours List. At the Paralympics in Rio last summer, he took singles gold and a silver medal in the doubles. In January this year, he completed a career Grand Slam of doubles titles after winning the Australian Open with Belgian Joachim Gerard, and last year he won singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Joshua Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, was made an MBE for services to social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland. Others attending the investiture ceremony included Michael Cavanagh, who was chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland and is made an OBE for services to sport and the Commonwealth Games movement. Professor Susan Deacon, assistant principal of Edinburgh University, is made a CBE for services to business, education and public service. Note: A previous version of this article stated Lady Fraser received an OBE. This information was provided in good faith and The Courier would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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

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


Dairsie to honour its Second World War heroes

July 29 2014

Residents of a tiny village who were killed during the Second World War are to be honoured at last. While the names of the 14 men of Dairsie who gave their lives in the First World War are listed on a memorial plaque in the village there is nothing to record those who died in the later conflict. All that is about to change, however, thanks to the efforts of a committee which has spent months researching the topic. It now plans to add a further five names to the plaque at Dairsie War Memorial Hall. They include four servicemen killed in action and a 13-year-old girl who died of fright when a bomb exploded near her. Margaret Young Johnstone from Cupar suffered from a heart condition and fell at her mother’s feet when the incendiary device blew up at Craigfortune on November 1 1940. The others who died were Robert Leslie Gordon, 29, a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps who died on May 29 1940; Walter Davidson, 34, a private in the sixth battalion of The Black Watch killed on May 31 1940; Philip Lindsay, 22, a private in the second battalion of The Black Watch killed on November 21 1941, and William George, 20, a sergeant air gunner in 158 squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who died on May 30 1943. Committee member Blair Littlejohn has urged family members of any of the fallen to get in touch so they can attend an unveiling ceremony next year. He would also like to hear from anyone who knows of anybody else who died as a result of the conflict but was not uncovered by the committee. “We did research at St Andrews University and also through the War Graves Commission,” Mr Littlejohn said. “We then took the names to Cupar Library and read through several years’ worth of Couriers and Fife Heralds to see what we could find out. “The story of the young girl is tragic. She lived in Bonnygate in Cupar and was scared to death when the incendiary device landed near her. She fell at her mother’s feet on her aunt’s doorstep.” He added: “Fourteen men from the village were killed in the First World War and they are honoured on the plaque at the War Memorial Hall. “There is plenty room for more names. We were hoping someone would read the article and recognise a name as their father or uncle or someone. “It would be nice if we could attract some of the relatives to the ceremony.” Anyone with further information should contact Blair Littlejohn, 14 Osnaburgh Court, Dairsie, phone 01334 870007, or Sarah Whitson, phone 01334 871414. Picture by George McLuskie

Perth & Kinross

Councillors defend water taxi pontoons vision for Perth

March 24 2016

Doubts about the wisdom of promoting the Tay from Perth for pleasure cruises have been swept aside by the council. Councillor Alan Livingstone said it would provide the “must see” attraction that Perth lacked while Councillor John Kellas reiterated the aim of seeing visitors travelling from Perth to Dundee by water taxi. “What could be better than sitting in one of our wonderful hotels and going by river taxi to the V&A and then coming back in the evening?” asked Mr Kellas at a meeting of the enterprise and infrastructure committee. “It would be wonderful if we could achieve that.” Councillors told that work on three pontoons, at Tay Street, Willowgate and Elcho Castle, will start in the summer, funded by a £600,000 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. Cold water was poured on the project recently by local maritime expert Captain Douglas Harvey who claimed the pontoons could end up a “white elephant”. The master mariner believes that insurance issues, maritime regulations and a need to survey sections of the river regularly could scupper the plans. However, director (environment) Barbara Renton said they had sought legal advice and were confident of their plans, a stance which was backed up by David Littlejohn, the council’s head of planning and development. “These are not simple pontoons, they fall and rise with the tide and are very robust structures with rails,” he told the meeting. He said they needed to get the pontoons in place for the river to be used more but he did not envisage things like water taxis becoming a reality until the V&A was open and the park-and-ride was built near Walnut Grove. Mr Littlejohn said in the meantime the pontoons could be used by everything from kayaks to river cruises. Councillor John Flynn said the idea of taking to the river had captured the public imagination. “People are talking and getting excited about sailing down the Tay,” he said. The meeting was told that a subsequent application for £100,000 had been successful which would pay for storage at Willowgate for a City Activity Centre. This would enable organisations to store recreational equipment, and Perth College UHI had already indicated interest in using the centre as a base for rowing and outdoor activities.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

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.