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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Angus & The Mearns

Fears Friockheim could be spoiled by housing ‘scheme’

February 6 2013

Adding 90 homes to a rural Angus village could create a “scheme” area, it has been claimed. Friockheim and District Community Council wants Angus Council to reconsider proposals in its local development plan, for an additional 50 houses to be built near a site that has already been approved for 40. The local authority is considering the move as part of its Angus Main Issues Report (MIR), which seeks to identify ways in which the county may develop over the next two decades. Following a presentation from planning officers at the community council’s latest meeting, a response was sent to the council to outline local views. A section stated: “The Friockheim community is, in the main, still very unhappy about the decision to allow the development of up to 40 houses to the South of Gardyne Street. “This development was strongly opposed during the consultation and appeals processes relating to the decision. “Whilst accepting that the decision is now a matter of history and it is only to be expected that the ‘losers’ will have louder voices than the ‘winners’ following any such decision that does not change the very real anger that many within the village feel about the decision, and this anger does not appear to have dissipated in any way. “It is no wonder, then, that many within the community are extremely concerned that the local development plan is indicating the development of a further 50 houses on an adjacent site to the South of Gardyne Street.” Work is yet to begin on the 40 approved houses near Gardyne Street. The community council claims that building 90 homes would mean an increase of around 30% in the village housing stock and could lead to the development being seen as a “scheme”. Members say building at the location will split the village in two, increasing pedestrian traffic “considerably” across Gardyne Street, including children taking the route on the way to school. A spokesman for Angus Council said: “The council has recently been asking for community views on the Angus MIR, which looks at how the county should develop during the next 20 years. “Friockheim is one of four large villages seen as rural service centres with shops, school and other facilities, where some new housing development could take place. “The council will be considering all views on these proposals, including representations from Friockheim Community Council, and on the locations of any future housing developments, as part of preparing a proposed plan.” Friockheim has two shops, a chemist, a health centre, one primary school, two halls and one church. A bid to transform the empty Eastgate School into a community hub is still at an early stage and will rely on lottery funding. An overview report on the responses to the MIR consultation will go before committee on March 5. The options for Friockheim can be viewed on the council’s website at angus.gov.uk.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus meals on wheels will take to the road and move to new location

March 2 2016

Angus meals on wheels is moving to a single location in Forfar following a council shake-up of the service. The community service currently dishes up around 2,500 meals every week from kitchens at Fairlie House in Kirriemuir and Friockheim’s Lunan Park, but both have been declared unfit for purpose by council chiefs. The authority previously authorised a tender as part of a logistics hub plan, but the quotes were substantially above funds available and new options were examined. Strategic director Margo Williamson told social work and health committee councillors: “Various options have been considered for a new community meals depot but all have been untenable due to cost or effectiveness issues.” “The current proposal will utilise part of an existing Angus Council building, making effective use of the council’s existing property assets.” The move to County Buildings will leave the Friockheim premises empty and surplus to requirements. It is one of a long list of properties which the council is looking to offload. The director added: “This change of depot will not affect the current staff compliment. “It will, however, mean that some staff will have to travel to get to their base. In these circumstances any affected staff will be compensated under Angus Council’s excess travel allowance scheme. “A review of the management arrangements is currently being undertaken to ensure that we have the correct model for the new meals depot,” continued the director. “The removal of the facility from Lunan Park and Fairlie House will result in reduced property costs. These available budgets can be re-allocated to County Buildings to offset any additional property costs arising as a result of the community meals service being located within this building.” Costs associated with the move will be in the region of £300,000, more than half of which involves work to the County Buildings, including a replacement roof. Social work and health convener Councillor Glennis Middleton said: “It makes perfect sense to have this on one site.”

Angus & The Mearns

Support for Friockheim community hub plans

October 2 2017

Locals in Friockheim have shown their support for a brand new community hub at a weekend open day event. The former Eastgate Primary will be transformed into a base that local services, facilities, opportunities and support will be managed and delivered from, with the development due for completion in September 2018. Included in the facility, named FriockHub, will be a multi-purpose room, small business offices and a café, with meeting rooms, a nursery and a gym also incorporated. The Saturday event ran from 11am to 3pm and gave members of the public the chance to give their input to the plans as well as allow organisers to showcase and discuss them. Richard Moore, Councillor for Arbroath West, Letham & Friockheim, said: "Friockeim Community Hub will be a fantastic asset to the local community and the wider area. "We should applaud the vision of those who are developing it and I hope our MSPs and MPs will get behind it also." Graeme Dey MSP for Angus South added: "Having been involved with the Hub project from its early days it really is great to see it taking shape. "And it must have been incredibly heartening for those who have driven this on to see the community turning out in such numbers to show support for their efforts. I can't wait to see the Friockheim Hub open its doors." The group had bought the old school building and land through Angus Council’s asset transfer policy with help from the Big Lottery fund — who contributed £1 million — as well as contributions from Angus Leader, the Robertson Trust and various other sources. It had earlier been hit with a shock funding gap after a drop in the value of the pound after Brexit caused construction costs to increase by over £100,000. The cost was initially estimated at £905,000 for the building but that price increased to £1.2 million —  with Chairman Dougie Pond stating this was partly due to the UK's decision to leave the European bloc.

Angus & The Mearns

Move to put brakes on speeding drivers at Friockheim Primary School agreed

January 25 2016

Councillors have agreed a move which will put the brakes on drivers entering the village of Friockheim near the local primary school. It follows a speed survey which revealed that drivers heading into the village are turning a blind eye to a school time 20mph limit. But they have stopped short of making speed limit changes at the opposite end of the village, on the main A933 between Arbroath and Brechin, after roads chiefs said a buffer zone around Friock Toll was not required. The speed of traffic at both ends of the village was highlighted as concerning by Friockheim Community Council, leading to an approach to the council requesting buffer speed limits in each location. Council head of technical and property services Ian Cochrane said a week-long speed survey on the B965, at the east end, recorded an average speed of 35.7mph for 85% of vehicles. “Further analysis showed that there was no marked difference in speeds recorded at the times of activity at nearby Friockheim Primary School when the part-time 20mph limit was in operation,” said Mr Cochrane. “The results of the speed survey confirmed evidence of the high approach speeds into Friockheim and, considering the results and the close proximity of the school and adjacent playpark, an intermediate 40mph speed limit would be appropriate.” Mr Cochrane said the situation at the opposite Friockheim Toll end was different, with appropriate signs in advance of the north and southbound approaches on the A933. “A check of the Angus accident database confirms that there has been one recorded road traffic accident at the junction in the last three years and speed was not listed as a contributory factor in that accident. “Works have been undertaken at Friockheim Toll in recent years including the provision of upgraded signing, road safety barriers and improvements to junction visibility. “Taking into consideration the guidance of the Angus speed limit strategy and evidence from accident analysis, the introduction of buffer speed limits on the A933 would not be appropriate.” Communities committee convener councillor Donald Morrison said: “I am delighted we are being asked to introduce a 40mph buffer zone and am delighted to support it.” Photo by Angus Pictures

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus Council learns affordable housing doesn’t come cheap

November 28 2015

Angus Council has vastly underestimated costs involved in building three small affordable homes on a site in Friockheim. The local authority is now predicting that work on the site of the former Teachers Resource Centre at Eastgate will cost just under £700,000 an increase of £146,000 more than the budget approved by the council’s communities committee in August. The council initially planned to just build two one-bedroom and one two-bedroom homes on part of the land, which is next to the building which will contain Friockheim Community Hub. Costs increased when the design changed to support the possible community asset transfer of the resource centre. This meant the plans were revised to include an access road to the resource centre and additional parking facilities. An initial budget of £500,000 was increased to £550,000 in August. However, the communities committee has now increased the budget by a further 26 per cent after the council found it had underestimated the costs involved for much of the work. The committee approved contractor Andrew Shepherd Construction Ltd to carry out the work at a cost of £532,862. It is also allowing £79,131 for professional fees, £20,000 for appropriation of the site, £5,000 for feasibility fees, £49,000 for the demolition for existing mobile units and £10,000 for statutory payments and sundry expenses. This brings the total cost of the project to £695,994. The Scottish Government will contribute £150,000 in the form of an affordable housing grant but the rest of the tab being picked up by the council’s housing revenue account (HRA). A report to councillors said there were higher than expected costs with regards to site drainage (£12,000 more than anticipated), boundary walling and street furniture (£19,500), roadway and parking (£13,000), uplift of hard landscaped areas (£5,000), preliminary costs (£15,000) and specialist services including PV panels and house ventilation (£6,000). There was also a general increase in the costs in the building trade of £11,000 and costs associated with telecom, gas, water and electricity connections were £15,500. The council’s initial budget didn’t take account at all for the demolition of mobile units, which is now anticipated to cost £49,000. Ian Cochrane, head of technical and property services, stated in his report: “The HRA Financial Plan (2014-2018) contained a gross allowance of £500,000 for three houses in Eastgate, Friockheim. “This was subsequently revised to £550,000 in the Housing Capital Monitoring Report 2015/2016. The budget comprised £400,000 from the HRA Capital budget and £150,000 from the Scottish Government’s Innovation and Investment Fund. “The HRA Financial Plan is currently in the process of being updated to 2015-2019 as part of the 2016/17 budget setting process. “As part of this update the HRA Financial Plan will be adjusted accordingly to incorporate the estimated total cost for the project of £695,994.”

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.”

Angus & The Mearns

Green light for village community centre at former school site

September 8 2015

A multi-million-pound Angus community hub described as a “real asset” has been given the go-ahead by local planners. The “FriockHub” project to remodel Friockheim’s former school as a 21st Century community hub has been the subject of a three-year campaign to bring a multi-purpose centre to one of the county’s largest villages. Project chairman Dougie Pond and his committee hope the centre will house a sports complex, business units, a theatre and cinema, a community garden, and reception facilities for up to 150 people. The project had early support from area MSP Graeme Dey, who welcomed the decision by Angus Council planners. “It’s great to see this significant milestone being reached, paving the way for the project to really move forward,” he said. “I’m delighted for Dougie and his colleagues who have put a tremendous amount of work into bringing this exciting development to fruition. “It will be a real asset to Friockheim.” The project is being supported initially by development funding from BigLotteryScotland, which enabled the planning application and early studies. Mr Pond applied through architects Brunton Design for a change of use and extension to the Eastgate building, in order to form a community hub and associated works. The plans were approved subject to minor conditions, including the guarantee that any music would be confined to the building. Mr Pond was not available to comment. In his handling report, Angus Council planning officer James Wright said the proposal would “improve the range and quality of sport and recreational facilities in the area.” He added: “The supporting information appears to demonstrate a degree of community support for the development and I consider that the development would be of some benefit to the local community. “Overall the proposal provides a new use for an old building in a manner that complies with relevant policies of the development plan. “The proposal incorporates a modern extension to the existing building which will help provide an adaptable community space. “There are no material considerations that justify refusal of the proposals.”

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

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