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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...


Menzieshill High ‘family’ united to say farewell to beloved school

June 28 2016

Pupils past and present met for one final time to say goodbye to their beloved school. Ex-students from soon to be closed Menzieshill High were shown round their former high school by current pupils and staff as part of a celebratory event commemorating the facility. The school is due to close for the final time at the end of this week after serving the local area for 45 years. The last of three sold out tours of the school was attended by dozens of misty-eyed Dundonians. Former staff and pupils listened keenly to discussions on the school's history before visiting their classrooms for the last time. Tour organiser and current deputy head teacher Tom Stewart, who has worked at the school for more than two decades, explained: "There's a great bond between everyone. "The building is important, but it's the community that matters. I think that is why there was such a reaction to the closure. "There are many more who wanted to come today, but we don't have the capacity to support everyone." Headteacher Helen Gray said: "The feeling at the moment is one of pride. Pride that I have been part of this school and pride for the young people that I have worked with. "Today was about how we could facilitate an open day for the community which we could manage. "We had three slots of 50 tickets available and everyone has left, I think, with fond memories of their time at the school. "Everyone has been so happy to come back." During the emotional goodbye, former pupils, teachers and current students all paid tribute to the high school's "family spirit". Ex-student, David McCabe, revealed: "I'm here with my partner and my three sisters-we all went to Meznieshill High. "I'm bright enough, but I was more interested in taking part in sport. "I played for the hockey team, football team and rugby team. "I'll be very sad to see this building close." Current sixth year student Ronan Mackay, 16, echoed David's assessment. He said: "I've always taken such pride in Menzieshill. "Menzieshill has given my friends and I so many opportunities, so to come back in today and share this with the community is something I'm so excited about. "To be here means the world to me and I know it means the world to everyone else here. "We have 500 pupils here and I know every one of them by name. We are a family." The school’s fate was sealed in June 2015, when councillors voted by 18-14 to press ahead with the closure. Pupils will attend the new Harris Academy when it opens at the start of the 2016-2017 term.


Menzieshill High School closure plan: councillor says parents deserve more information

November 25 2014

A report into a proposal to close Menzieshill High School has been branded as “having the structure of a playground joke”. Councillor Laurie Bidwell told the education committee it was akin to someone saying: “I have good news and bad news for parents and carers in Dundee. “The good news is that we are proposing to build a new shared campus primary school in Whitfield ... and the bad news is that we will close Menzieshill High School and gamble that we have enough secondary school places for children in the combined catchment area.” Mr Bidwell described the education department report as “flimsy”, saying: “All the report reveals is that the school roll has gone down by 10 pupils in the last year and 57 pupils in the last four years. That’s the sum total of the evidence brought forward to support closure of a secondary school.” He proposed an amendment demanding a “comprehensive report” on the outlook for schools in the area. He added that projections show that the under-15 population is set to increase by 20% over the 20-year period to 2032 and asked how that would impact on school rolls. “Menzieshill High School is closer to the Western Gateway and that development should not fall into the catchment area for Baldragon,” he said. Education convener Stewart Hunter replied, saying the catchment area for the Western Gateway was decided before he was convener and before his predecessor. He said: “It was under the convenership of Councillor Bidwell, so I find his comments rather bizarre.” A fuller report will be presented to councillors on Friday. Mr Hunter added: “We thought it was important to bring this to committee as soon as possible and then bring it back to committee in December with a more detailed report.” Labour leader Kevin Keenan asked what the effect would be on pupils from the Carse of Gowrie area who traditionally see Harris as their school. He was told that Invergowrie Primary School, which has always been an associated school for Harris, would continue to be so, however the situation for other primary schools in Angus which sit just outside the Dundee boundary and currently feed into Menzieshill High School will be reviewed. Mr Wood told members: “There are currently 151 pupils going to Harris Academy who should be going to Menzieshill and if they were we would be having a different conversation tonight.” Mr Bidwell’s amendment was defeated by 21 votes to 10 and the education department will now move towards consultation on the schools estate as a whole, including the possible closure of Menzieshill. A full report will be brought before the education committee on December 12.


Top lawyer joins battle to save Menzieshill High School

May 6 2015

The battle to save a Dundee school could go to court, with a top lawyer threatening legal action over the proposed closure. In a bid to sharpen the teeth of the Save Menzieshill High campaign, prominent advocate Patrick McGuire is gathering evidence for a judicial review against Dundee City Council. The lawyer said that there were “significant concerns” that the local authority had not followed “due process” in its plan to close the school. He also branded the closure illogical as “the population is only going to rise” within the school’s catchment area. The Courier yesterday revealed concerns over the “fairness” of an Education Scotland report into the planned closure, after it emerged that inspectors did not attend a parental consultation at Menzieshill High, despite attending similar events at two other schools affected by the closure. Parents from the Save Menzieshill High campaign group have also accused the council of ignoring their concerns, with one branding the consultation “a complete joke”. Mr McGuire, who works for Thompson’s solicitors in Edinburgh, told The Courier: “We are looking at a judicial review. “Based on the information I have seen there are clearly aspects that have raised significant concerns in terms of due process and consultation, particularly with parents. “I can see that they (campaigners) have meat to their concerns and so am looking at launching a judicial review against Dundee City Council. “It is early days at the moment, but the next step will be to sit down with more families to gather further evidence. This is a hugely important issue and we have to ensure that there was due process. “All the schools surrounding Menzieshill High are full and the population of the area is only going to rise in the coming years. “From a logical point of view the proposed closure makes no sense.” Menzieshill High School was slated for closure after the council said it was operating “significantly below” the building’s capacity. There are 487 pupils at the school this year, representing a 48% occupancy level. This has dropped from 67% in the school year 2008-09. However, councillors recently approved the Western Gateway housing development, near the Swallow roundabout, and campaigners argue this will boost the school’s roll. A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “A report outlining the consultation process was considered by the education committee in December last year.” Education Scotland previously said that all their reports are “independent and impartial” and follow legal processes although they refused to confirm if inspectors had ever visited Menzieshill High.

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.

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


Parents fear children from rural Perthshire would be picked on at Dundee school

February 17 2015

The restructuring of Dundee schools could result in rural children being bullied, it has been claimed. Primary school pupils from Longforgan and Inchture have the choice to go on to either Menzieshill High or Perth High. But if proposals to close Menzieshill High go ahead, children would be sent to either Baldragon Academy or Perth. Longforgan parents have voiced their concerns that children would be singled out at Baldragon because of their rural background. And they fear that transport would be a problem due to the long distances pupils would have to travel. A public meeting attended by parents, councillors and public figures was held in Inchture. Lianne Laing, chairwoman of Longforgan Primary Parent Council, was one of the attendees. She said: “Putting children from a small rural area into an urban school with high levels of deprivation would single them out. “With Menzieshill High it was OK, because there was a large number of rural kids all together, but if it closes they may be split up. “The options then would be travelling 20 miles to Perth or getting two buses to Baldragon Academy.” Dundee City Council education convener Stewart Hunter said no definitive answers about transport can be given until a final decision is made. He said: “I’m confident that if the closure of Menzieshill High does go ahead, then appropriate transport arrangements would be put in place. “I can understand parents’ concerns about Baldragon if they have never had any involvement with the school and only have inspection reports to go on. “But at previous meetings the head has given reassurance that any new pupils will be welcomed and full support will be given.”


Facebook feud ends in brutal bottle attack

October 29 2013

A man who launched a bottle attack after a Facebook feud boiled over has been remanded in custody. Daniel Finnigan was told by a sheriff that he “could end up dead” as he blasted a culture of violence among young men in Dundee. The sheriff court heard that Finnigan had clashed with Kevin McHugh in a pub in Menzhieshill last year. That escalated into Facebook challenges being issued by Mr McHugh. Finnigan initially ignored them but he lost his cool when he spotted Mr McHugh walking across the playing fields of Menzieshill High on November 12 last year. He ran at Mr McHugh, hitting him over the head with a bottle, before he and a gang of others launched a savage beating, repeatedly kicking their victim on the head. A boy who witnessed the attack described seeing Mr McHugh “screaming in pain” as he was carried from the scene. Depute fiscal Trina Sinclair told the court: “After the assault Mr McHugh couldn’t stand unaided and his friend carried him home. “He couldn’t get up the stairs, so was propped up in the close until the ambulance arrived. He was taken to Ninewells Hospital and was examined. He had facial injuries and a broken leg. He had to undergo surgery on his leg the next day.” Finnigan, 20, of Fyffe Street, was initially charged with attempted murder but he pled guilty on indictment to a charge of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement. Solicitor Anika Jethwa said: “Mr Finnigan had initially ignored the Facebook challenges posted by Mr McHugh but his temper got the better of him when they had this chance meeting.” Sheriff George Way deferred sentence until November 20 for background reports and remanded Finnigan in custody “for the protection of the public”. He said: “Kicking someone on the head is a lottery it can result in death. The court can’t tolerate this suggestion that vigilante, macho self-help like this can be allowed in a civilised society. “Violence tends to escalate and will get out of hand. These young men are prepared to use violence in this way and that will end up with someone being killed and Mr Finnigan, you could be the next victim.”


“The school did so much for me” — Saying farewell to Menzieshill High

June 28 2016

As Dundee’s Menzieshill High School closes its doors for the last time, one proud former pupil looks back on its 45-year contribution to the life of the city. When the 12-year-old Mike Hughes first stepped through the gates of Menzieshill High as a fresh-faced first year in 1974, the school was almost as new as he was. Because the initial intake in 1971 comprised S1 pupils only, by the time he started the roll only went as high as S4. It made for a very special atmosphere, Mike recalls, and it goes some way towards explaining why he and successive generations look back on their time at the school so fondly. “It was still a very young, very new school,” Mike, now 53, explains. “The teachers were really interested in the pupils and there was a real integration, which fostered a two-way respect. “In many ways Menzieshill was way ahead of its time in terms of both the academic subjects and extracurricular activities it offered, and that was down to Mr Gowans, the rector,” he continues. “It was one of the first schools to offer home economics for boys and woodwork for girls, and there was no end of after-school activities including drama, sports, art, music and debating.” A highlight for him was when the debating team won against pupils from Dundee High School, Bell Baxter and Madras – quite a feat for a big city comprehensive that was only about six years old at the time. Mike left Menzieshill High at the end of fifth year and went on to work as a TV cameraman and director. Now based in Newcastle, he returns to Dundee often to visit his father and since the school’s closure was announced he has been working on a project called Bye Bye Meenie High to collate and preserve the memories of former pupils. “Many of the people I went to Meenie with have gone on to have interesting careers and that says a lot for the school,” he says. “The focus wasn’t only on academic success but also very much about producing rounded people who could stand on their own feet. “The school did so much for me and made me grow as a person, and I wanted to find out if it still meant as much to other past pupils as well as those there today. “It’s not about grieving, it’s about celebrating what it was, holding on to those memories and moving on,” he adds.   Sadness and excitement Opened in 1971, Menzieshill High was one of Dundee’s first comprehensive schools, accepting pupils from all backgrounds and regardless of their academic abilities. Located in the city’s Yarrow Terrace, it would provide a secondary education to more than 90,000 youngsters from the surrounding area over the next 45 years. The school’s distinctive M-shaped badge was designed to illustrate its position at the heart of the community, the red equilateral triangle representing its commitment to equality of opportunity, the grey trapezoids suggesting the buildings around it and the green background reflecting the expanse of grassland on which it sits. The current school roll stands at 600, with pupils coming from Gowriehill, Hillside, Longforgan, Inchture and St Clement’s RC primaries. The closure was first mooted by Dundee City Council in 2014, when it was proposed to transfer students to the new Harris Academy building on Perth Road. The idea attracted  strong opposition from pupils, parents and others in the community, fronted by the Save Menzieshill High campaign,  who fought a determined battle to keep it open during the ensuing consultation. However, the school’s fate was sealed in June 2015, when councillors voted by 18-14 to press ahead with the move, arguing that the needs of youngsters would be better served in a new school designed to meet the needs of a 21st century education. Pupils will attend the new Harris Academy when it opens at the start of the 2016-2017 term. An open day has been organised for today to give former students one last chance to look around the school which played such an important part in their lives. Tom Stewart, one of the current 
deputy head teachers, said: “Staff and pupils have mixed feelings, there are a lot of fond memories and a lot of sadness. But there is also a lot of excitement for the future – it is a big, big change for us.”


Education inspectors accused of failing to give Menzieshill High School a fair hearing

May 5 2015

A vital report that could decide whether Menzieshill High School continues teaching or closes its doors forever is now with Dundee City Council. Over the next month, senior officials will study the findings of Education Scotland’s inspectors before they can be discussed by councillors. It has emerged, however, that despite the hugely controversial and sensitive nature of the final decision, the inspectors may never have visited the closure-threatened school. Documentation seen by The Courier also reveals that Education Scotland officials did not attend the consultation on the school’s closure, despite attending similar meetings at Baldragon and Harris academies two other institutions that would be affected by the closure. The Rev Bob Mallinson, from the Save Menzieshill High campaign, said: “How can this report be fair when they did not even come and listen to our concerns? “I would call into question the fairness of the Education Scotland report. “It is not right that they should listen to the views of some and not others. It should be all or none.” An Education Scotland spokesman said: “HM Inspectors provide an independent and impartial report of the educational aspects of a council’s proposal in accordance with the terms of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. “Our report to Dundee City Council will be published on our website on the same date as Dundee City Council publishes its final consultation report.” The spokesman refused to say whether inspectors had visited Menzieshill High. According to the body’s website, they receive a council-prepared “summary” of oral representations at any meetings inspectors are unable to attend. Menzieshill High School was slated for closure after the council said it was operating “significantly below” the building’s capacity. There are 487 pupils at the school this year, representing a 48% occupancy level. This has dropped from 67% in the school year 2008/09. However, councillors recently approved the massive new Western Gateway housing development, near the Swallow roundabout, and campaigners argue that this would boost the school’s roll.