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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...

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


Glenrothes man ready for fresh ‘bedroom tax’ battle

December 24 2013

A Fife man who won a landmark ruling against the so-called bedroom tax has said that he may have to take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights. David Nelson, of Glenrothes, has told The Courier he will continue his campaign against the Spare Room Subsidy after revealing that the Department for Work and Pensions has been allowed to appeal a decision that ruled a spare room in his home as too small to be classed as a bedroom. Mr Nelson moved to the forefront of a national campaign against the legislation when the ruling was made by a top QC at a tribunal in October. However, he says he always expected the Government to challenge the outcome after QC Simon Collins stated that room size and usage should be taken into account when determining what constitutes a bedroom. He told The Courier: “I’ve been told at tribunal that they have allowed the DWP to go ahead with their appeal. I’m not surprised as I always thought that would happen. I’m going to fight it again but I’m quite happy about it. “The original judgment was that the room is too small to be considered a bedroom. If the DWP win then I will appeal that again. “I will take it to Europe if I have to.” Mr Nelson, 57, successfully argued that his spare room, measured at 66 square feet, was a boxroom and therefore exempt from the Spare Room Subsidy the first in Britain to do so on such grounds. Although he expected a challenge from the DWP, Mr Nelson says he is confident he will once again be victorious, although he has looked at European human rights legislation. “I’ve looked at some of it but I think I’ll still win it here I’m quite optimistic,” he said. “I’ve told them that there is no way that I’m moving. There is no way that they will move me from my home.”


Fife man at centre of ‘bedroom tax’ turmoil

September 9 2014

The UK Government’s controversial “bedroom tax” policy could be thrown into chaos later this month. The Department for Work and Pensions is launching a bid to overturn a landmark ruling that size does matter when it comes to defining a bedroom. If it fails, it will set a precedent that could spell the beginning of the end for the so-called bedroom tax. At the heart of the matter is Fife man David Nelson, who won a groundbreaking test case in Kirkcaldy a year ago when top QC Simon Collins ruled that size and usage should be taken into account when deciding what constitutes a bedroom. The DWP will appeal that decision at a hearing in Edinburgh on September 18. It will be the first appeal by the Government on the grounds of room size and this time the decision carries more weight. Mr Nelson is hoping to make history for a second time by persuading the judge to dismiss the DWP’s appeal and uphold the original decision. Campaigners against the “bedroom tax” are expected to attend the hearing from across Scotland and local authorities and housing associations will await the result with interest. The appeal follows MPs voting to exempt disabled people from the policy entirely and ruling social housing tenants should be given a reprieve until they receive a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation. About 75,000 Scottish households are affected by the policy that resulted in people with one spare bedroom having their housing benefit cut by 14% and those with two of more spare rooms facing a 25% reduction in benefit. Mr Collins ruled last year that a room measuring less than 50 square feet is not a bedroom and a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet could only be used by a child aged under 10. The DWP maintains that if a room can accommodate a bed then it is a bedroom. Mr Nelson’s solicitor, Graeme Sutherland from Fife Law Centre, said the decision of the second tier tribunal would be significant. “This is the first upper tier tribunal on these grounds in the UK and it has huge implications for the whole country,” he said. “The DWP are appealing against the first tier tribunal and have decided to take it higher for judicial authority on the matter. “There are many cases across the UK which have followed the Fife decision on room size. “All of these cases would fall either to be underscored or appealed on the grounds of David’s appeal on the 18th. “To be honest, if they say there is no minimum size I think it would throw many local authorities into even worse chaos than they’re in at the moment.” The DWP would have the right to appeal to a higher court should the decision go against them but Mr Sutherland said that would not be easy. “You are speaking about fairly significant expense to take it further,” he said. “If the appeal is unsuccessful on the issue of room size I would hope the DWP would leave it at that. “I think the original decision was sensible and Mr Collins justified his position well so I wouldn’t think it could be considered an error of judgment.” Mr Nelson, who has vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary, said he was looking forward to the next stage of his fight. “I’m quite happy to go to appeal,” he said. “This could set a precedent for the whole of the UK.” The DWP declined to comment until the outcome of the case.

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.


Housing groups ‘quaking in their boots’ after Fife ‘bedroom tax’ judgments

September 11 2013

Landmark rulings exempting several Fife tenants from the controversial bedroom tax could have huge repercussions for the UK housing industry, experts have warned. The decisions by a QC based on room size and usage will have local authorities and housing associations “quaking in their boots”. As Glenrothes man David Nelson celebrated the judgment that his spare room is too small to be considered a bedroom, Joe Halewood from housing consultancy HSM claimed social landlords were now “panicking like mad”. Mr Halewood, who runs the blog SPeye, said a number of English councils had been in touch with him to say they were considering pre-empting lengthy court battles. “Many social landlords have been in contact following the Fife decisions to say they are looking to see if they can unilaterally act to take a room under 70 square feet out of the equation,” he said. “Anyone with rent arrears as a result of the bedroom tax is having court cases adjourned if they have appealed and this can take four to seven months. “In the meantime, rent arrears are building up so it would save a lot of time and money for landlords to just remove the room themselves.” Mr Halewood, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the housing industry, was speaking following a seminal decision by Simon Collins QC that a room of less than 50 square feet cannot be considered a bedroom. He also ruled that a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet can only be used by a child under the age of 10. Mr Nelson had appealed against Fife Council’s decision to cut his housing benefit by 14% because he had a spare room and was one of seven Fife tenants to take test cases to a tribunal. Another three, including Kirkcaldy woman Louise McLeary and Annie Harrower-Gray from Anstruther, were also successful on the grounds their spare rooms are being used for other purposes. Louise, who is blind, successfully argued that she needed a spare bedroom in her adapted home to house braille and other equipment. Mr Halewood said the ruling on room usage was perhaps even more significant than the one on size. “If all bedrooms under 70 square feet were taken out of the equation that would take 70,000 people out of bedroom tax,” he said, “However, of the 660,000 households affected by bedroom tax, 420,000 of them have a disabled resident and very many of them use their bedrooms for storing wheelchairs, defibrillators and the like. “The significance of the bedroom tax tribunal case in Fife cannot be underestimated (sic) and that is not hyperbole.” Meanwhile, a senior MSP has claimed the rulings could devalue social landlords’ housing stock. Alex Johnstone, the Scottish Conservatives’ welfare reform spokesman, said: “There is a potential twist to this in that David Nelson would have paid rent for the room which is no longer classed as a bedroom. “The issue here is whether people who pay rent on similar houses should now have their rent reduced as a result. “It’s one of those issues that will have social landlords quaking in their boots.” He added: “I suspect one of the reasons councils and social landlords were not keen to do this is it would devalue their stock.” For more coverage of the ‘bedroom tax’, see Thursday’s or try our digital edition.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Angus musician on the bill for Willie Nelson’s birthday bash

April 29 2013

An Angus-born musician has struck a chord with some of the biggest names in country music. Multi-talented musician Laura McGhee is getting set to walk the line with the Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, at a special show celebrating country legend Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday. Laura moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to follow her dream of making it in the music world and has toured all over the United States with her unique brand of country and folk in recent years. The singer, guitarist and fiddle player is writing with John Carter Cash, who also runs the Cash Cabin recording studio and is eagerly anticipating Tuesday’s gig in honour of Mr Nelson. Laura said: “I’m so excited and it’s really cool to be asked to be involved in something like this. “Willie Nelson was quite a big influence on me growing up. I knew a lot of his music so I’m learning one of his songs for the show. “I actually saw him live, in Glasgow believe it or not, so it’ll be nice to do one of his songs.” Laura recently embarked on an ambitious album project which would have infused her Scottish roots and Americana influences on the one CD. However, the project, due to be recorded at the Cash Cabin, never came to fruition, though Laura has continued to work with John Carter Cash, who has been taken by her style, and is preparing new material. “I really want to thank everyone that pledged to the project and helped support it,” she added. “It didn’t quite make it but I’m really grateful for all the support. I met John about three years ago and we played together off and on and we always said we would write together. “However, with people’s schedules out here it’s always hard to arrange that and tie it up. After the album didn’t work out he said there’s still a way we can work together and I’m glad we have been able to.” Laura will be covering Willie Nelson’s He’s not for You at the intimate show on Tuesday and will play fiddle alongside John Carter Cash and friends. Willie Nelson’s iconic long hair, bandana, voice and playing style have carved him out as one of the most instantly recognisable and revered musicians in America, even for fans outside his country style. His most famous hits include “On The Road Again” and “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” but he has also gained notoriety for his support of the campaign to legalise marijuana in America. For more information on Laura McGhee, visit www.facebook.com/laura.mcghee2.


Douglas man threatened to ‘put brick over head’ of female neighbour

February 15 2014

A Dundee man who threatened to kill his neighbour by “putting a brick over her head” has been jailed for eight months. Mark Nelson, 43, called the woman “a grass” and threatened to smash her window after police arrested him over his drunken behaviour in the city’s Douglas area last September. Fiscal depute Douglas Wiseman said police had received a number of complaints from Nelson’s neighbours at around 11am after his behaviour had “started to escalate”, and he was subsequently arrested. The following day at 1pm, a female neighbour returned home to see Nelson shouting at her from a window: “You’re a grass, I’ve been to Bell Street because of you.” Later that evening, Nelson threatened to smash the woman’s window, shouting: “Come outside, I’ll sort you out. I’ll put a brick over your head.” Nelson was seen through the woman’s door peephole with a brick in his hand. After being arrested, he continued to shout and swear at the neighbour, saying: “I’m going to kill you.” Brian Cooney, defending, said: “Mr Nelson is currently serving a custodial sentence for breaching bail conditions. “Alcohol was a major factor and he has been receiving alcohol counselling.” Nelson, of Balunie Crescent, admitted conducting himself in a disorderly manner by shouting and uttering threats towards a woman, threatening to kill her and committing a breach of the peace on September 4. He also admitted behaving in a disorderly manner and threatening to kill the same woman and damage her property the following day. Sheriff Tom Hughes told Nelson: “These are serious charges and this is a matter of some concern. “A custodial sentence is inevitable.” Sheriff Hughes jailed Nelson for eight months to run concurrently with his existing sentence.

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.