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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...


Paramedic shopped on way to urgent call in Fife

October 10 2013

A paramedic delayed attending an urgent call to help a depressed and suicidal woman to pick up equipment for her home computer, a misconduct hearing has been told. Victoria Arnott admitted stopping en route to the woman’s home to do personal shopping while on duty in Fife on July 4 last year. The former Scottish Ambulance Service worker agreed she had visited a store without seeking authorisation from the ambulance control centre, but denied misusing an ambulance for personal purposes. Ms Arnott appeared before the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee on Wednesday. A three-member panel heard Ms Arnott, who joined the ambulance service in 1999, had been allocated a doctor’s urgent call to attend the home of a depressed and suicidal woman and take her to hospital. Rowena Rix, representing the HCPC, said: “On that same date the control room supervisor reported to the duty shift manager that there had been a delay in Ms Arnott’s crew responding to this call. “She admitted she had stopped the ambulance en route to the urgent call in order to undertake some personal shopping.” The paramedic acted unprofessionally and had put her own interests before those of the patient, Ms Rix said. Witness Iain Morgan, who was the East ambulance control centre duty shift manager at the time, told the panel that investigations showed the ambulance had deviated from its route for around seven minutes. “I spoke to Victoria and she informed me she picked up something to do with her computer,” he said. Ms Rix asked: “In your experience is it ever acceptable to stop en route to an urgent call?” “No, it’s not,” Mr Morgan said. But Alice Stobart, counsel for Ms Arnott, suggested that there was a procedure for paramedics to stop en route and others had been authorised to do so in the past. “There isn’t any procedure to allow that, I can only say in my experience that’s not the case,” Mr Morgan said. “They would not be allowed to do it while en route to a call.” The call was at the second lowest level of priority for the ambulance service with a response window of one to four hours, the panel was told. It had initially been received by the control room at 11.41am and was not allocated to Ms Arnott’s crew until 3.35pm. Ms Stobart said given such a window, her client might expected to know from experience that there was unlikely to be clinical ormedical attention necessary. The hearing is expected to last two days. The panel will rule on whether misconduct has been proved and if so, whether Ms Arnott’s fitness to practise is impaired. The Scottish Ambulance Service said Ms Arnott is no longer an employee.

Perth & Kinross

Plea by top Tay angler to do more to conserve wild salmon

February 22 2017

A claim the Scottish Government has done little to help wild salmon, while backing Norwegian owned salmon farms "to the hilt",  has been made by a leading angler. Writer Arnot McWhinnie, one of the Tay's top anglers, was speaking at the presentation of the Redford Trophy, awarded each year to the angler who lands the heaviest fish on opening day. "Many of you, like me, will be worried about the future of our salmon stocks," said Mr McWhinnie. He said as salmon stocks seem to diminish each year the Scottish Government does very little to help the iconic fish, despite the fact salmon fishing contributes to the Scottish economy and provides many jobs. "Sportsmen from all over the UK and Europe come here to fish for salmon, but nowadays, like the fish, their numbers are diminishing because there are simply not enough salmon for them to catch. "While the Scottish Government backs Norwegian-owned fish farms to the hilt their only answer to the reduction in salmon stocks is to impose catch and release on anglers, criminalising them if they kill a salmon at certain times of year, and on certain rivers." Predators such as seals, dolphins, and goosanders were the main problem on the east coast, while on the west coast it was fish farms, located at or near the mouth of virtually every estuary, he said. These produce a "sea lice soup" which young fish have to swim through, with many being eaten alive by the parasites. Mr McWhinnie said many of theses salmon farms are operated by Norwegian companies. "Their country has much stricter regulations which impact on their profits, so what do they do?," he asked. "They come to Scotland where regulations are less strict. "It is high time the Scottish Government clamped down on the way these farms operate." He added that one answer could be to rear the salmon in close containment farms on dry land rather than in the sea, something which the Norwegian Government is looking at, with, he believed the first closed containment farms already set up. A Scottish Government spokesman defended their record saying: “Scottish wild salmon is a valuable and important asset and we are taking action to protect stocks. "We have introduced catch and release in areas where stocks are below their conservation limit and an annual assessment of conservation status on individual rivers rather than at district level, which will help to protect our weakest stocks to ensure they are here for future generations to enjoy. "Scotland also has a proportionate legislative and regulatory framework which balances growing aquaculture sustainably and protecting biodiversity and the environment on which aquaculture and wild fisheries depend.” This year's winner of the Redford Trophy was Dr Robert Harvey, from Larbert.  Dr Harvey, who is a lay preacher, landed a 19lb salmon on the Dunkeld House Hotel water. He has only been salmon fishing for five years, and is the fourth of a group of friends to win the prestigious trophy which was presented to him by Arnot, himself a former winner.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Perth & Kinross

Increasing concern for Stanley man James Stewart missing for almost a week

November 11 2011

Police searching for a missing Perthshire man have admitted they are becoming ''increasingly concerned'' about his safety. James Stewart (59), of Store Street, Stanley, has not been seen since Saturday morning. Door-to-door inquiries and land and river searches have been carried out daily. Inspector Maggie Pettigrew said: ''We are increasingly concerned about him and are still actively searching for him.'' The RNLI lifeboat was drafted in to scan the fast-flowing Tay near the village, while tracker dogs have been used on land. Mr Stewart is believed to have followed his usual Saturday routine, collecting newspapers from the village shop and putting one through a neighbour's door early in the morning. That was the last time he was seen. Although he lives alone, Mr Stewart has two brothers in the village retired ghillie Geordie and plumber John. They have been too upset to speak publicly. Friend Arnott McWhinnie said: ''He's a nice, friendly, quiet chap but he always had a smile and if you stopped to speak to him, he would always chat away. ''It's fair to say everyone in the village is worried.'' Mr Stewart is around 5ft 9in, of large build and with fair receding hair and blue eyes. He enjoys walking in the area and occasionally between Stanley and Perth. Anyone with information is urged to call the police on 0300 111 2222 or speak to any officer.


‘Utterly ashamed’ carer avoids jail for stealing from 91-year-old

June 10 2015

A crooked carer who swindled hundreds of pounds from a 91-year-old woman she was supposed to be looking after has avoided a jail term. Jennifer Burns helped herself to £950 from the bank account of Dr Alexina McWhinnie a retired Dundee University researcher. Burns robbed Dr McWhinnie who received an MBE from Prince Charles for her work in 2010 after the trusting pensioner gave her her bank card and PIN to withdraw cash for her. Burns, 27, of Maryknowe, Gauldry, admitted two charges of theft committed on dates between November 15 and December 14 last year. Defence solicitor Scott Norrie said: “She had accumulated a debt of some £2,000 during a previous relationship that subsequently broke down. “She is utterly ashamed of her actions.” Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC imposed a community payback order with 120 hours of unpaid work, one year’s supervision and ordered her to pay £700 in compensation.


Fife paramedic cleared of misconduct over ambulance shopping delay

October 11 2013

A paramedic who stopped to do personal shopping while responding to an urgent call has been cleared of misconduct. A fitness to practise hearing found the case against Victoria Arnott “not well founded” after being told that she visited a chemist as she was feeling unwell. The three-member panel ruled the former Scottish Ambulance Service worker had stopped to pick up medication on July 4 last year because she wanted to continue to work and provide a service for patients in Fife. Ms Arnott had been allocated a doctor’s urgent call to attend at the home of a depressed and suicidal woman in Lochgelly and take her to Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline. Questions were raised after a delay of seven minutes was noted by her colleagues in the ambulance control centre. The Health and Care Professions Council’s conduct and competence committee heard that Ms Arnott told colleagues that, while en route from Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, she decided to stop at PC World on the Fife retail park to pick up something for her computer. But in her evidence to the panel on Thursday, the paramedic said she had been too embarrassed to tell them about her health issues in case she became the subject of gossip. She said she had been “pretty poorly” from the start of her 12-hour shift at about 7am and began feeling increasingly “frustrated and distracted”. Ms Arnott, who joined the ambulance service in 1999, said she had stopped to pick up over-the-counter medication for women. She admitted she had not asked for permission to stop and said this was because she was “not thinking straight”. The panel said they found her to be an “extremely credible, reliable and professional” witness. Earlier in the hearing, Ms Arnott admitted stopping en route to the woman’s home to do personal shopping without seeking authorisation from the ambulance control centre, but denied misusing an ambulance for personal purposes. The panel ruled that it had not been proven that the ambulance was misused because there was no clear Scottish Ambulance Service policy for employees on the issue of stops. Panel chairwoman Sarah Baalham said: “It would be reasonable to conclude that, if the registrant had sought permission beforehand, the ambulance control centre would have allowed a brief diversion off route for personal reasons related to,for example, ill-health. “We have determined that, on the balance of probabilities, her need to obtain some medication to enable her to continue work was in fact the true reason for her need to delay the ambulance.” The panel heard that the call was at the second lowest level of priority for the ambulance service with a response window of four hours. It had initially been received by the control room at 11.41am and was not allocated to Ms Arnott’s crew until 3.35pm. The patient had been allocated for transportation only and was not put at risk because there was “little or no need” for medical intervention by the ambulance crew, the panel was told. “This matter was a departure from the standards to be expected from a paramedic but, in the panel’s judgment, it was not so serious to merit the description ‘misconduct’,” Ms Baalham said. “She accepted with hindsight that she might have done things differently.” Ms Arnott continues to work as a paramedicwith a new employer. She declined to comment on the panel’s decision.

Perth & Kinross

‘Epic battle’ ends with a record catch and Gail’s name on River Tay angling cup

March 19 2016

A ghillie’s wife has become only the second woman in history to scoop the River Tay’s top fishing prize. Gail O’Dea netted the Redford Memorial Cup, which has been awarded since 1986 to the angler who catches the Tay’s biggest salmon on opening day. Nurse Gail landed a 14lb salmon in the Linn pool on the Taymount beat, near Stanley. Gail’s husband, Cohn O’Dea, is head ghillie on the beat. The fish was then unhooked, photographed, and released back into the river. The previous lady winner was Jane Glass from Fife who won it in 1997. Her late husband, Duncan, also had his name engraved on the cup. Gail received the trophy from Stanley angler Arnot McWhinnie, one of the founders of the Redford Cup. She said: “I have been fishing for four years and am a keen fly fisher. I had an epic battle (with the fish) in the Linn Pool, which I amazingly managed to keep under control and safely land and return. “The salmon was caught with a Vision 110 (green machine), one of my husband’s top spring lures. “I am very lucky to have a husband who is very dedicated within his role and fishing professionally and personally. “I shall definitely be in a great position to defend this trophy next year and shall without doubt be in the hunt for many years to come.” Robert Jamieson, of Blairgowrie gun and tackle shop James Crockart & Son, presented Gail with a £250 tackle voucher, and Garry McErlain, chairman of the Tay Ghillies Association, handed her two specially-engraved crystal glasses to mark her achievement. Also at the ceremony were George McInnes of Guildtown, head ghillie at Ballathie, George Todd, of Perth, and Derrick Fillingham, of Errol. All are co-founders of the award, named after their friend Ian Redford, who died in 1985 and was the owner of the Newtyle beat. His late son, Ian Jr, played for Dundee United, Dundee, Rangers, St Johnstone, Ipswich Town, Brechin City and Raith Rovers. A female angler from Perthshire holds the record for the heaviest British rod-caught salmon. The prize catch a record unlikely to ever be beaten was made on the River Tay on October 7 1922, near Caputh, by Georgina Ballantine. Fishing with her ghillie father, as dusk neared, she hooked an incredible 64lb fish and landed it after a two-hour battle. It was taken to Perth and P D Malloch made a plaster cast before the fish was gifted to Perth Royal Infirmary and eaten by staff and patients. The river system across Perthshire attracts sportsmen and women from around the globe.


Sisters in Kirkcaldy ‘haunted house’ bust-up

January 8 2014

A 61-year-old Kirkcaldy woman who thought her house was haunted by hellhounds left her 74-year-old sister unconscious after a bust-up. Isobel Arnott had told her sister Jean Littlejohn, a former medium, her Alford Avenue home was haunted by spooks. At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Tuesday, victim Mrs Littlejohn revealed that her sister had complained she had seen “her dog turning into a beast and growling at her”, “black hair appearing in her dog’s water bowl” and the “waterbowl moving” in her home. When she visited Arnott with their other sister, Jacqueline Salmond, the meeting descended into chaos which resulted in Arnott kicking, punching and pushing her older sister. Mrs Littlejohn told the court they had visited Arnott as they were concerned about her mental health. She said: “My sister told me her house was haunted. She said there were lots of spooks in her house.” Mrs Salmond stated: “Jean suggested Isobel go to a doctor as she couldn’t sleep, talking about ghosts and evil spirits.” She claimed that the mood changed when a friend of Arnott’s arrived. She continued: “There was no aggressiveness until this other person arrived. I think they were wanting to talk about ghosts in private. “Isobel got a bit hysterical, shouting like a mad woman and screaming at the top of her voice, ‘I want youse out’. She was totally out of character, like a lunatic.” Sheriff Alastair Thornton heard Arnott punched Mrs Littlejohn on the arm and grabbed her. Mrs Littlejohn slapped Arnott to get her to release her hold, before Arnott began kicking out at her sister. She then shoved her, sending her across the living room, crashing into a coffee table. She fell and hit her head on a second table and was knocked unconscious. Mrs Littlejohn said: “I was flat out on the other side of the room and out for the count.” Sheriff Thornton found Arnott guilty of, on July 24 at an address in Alford Avenue, assaulting Jean Littlejohn by punching, pushing and kicking her on the body, all to her injury. Sentence was deferred until February for reports.


“Shattered” 91 year-old Fifer speaks of her devastation after being robbed by callous carer

May 27 2015

An elderly Fife woman has spoken of being “shattered” after the carer she trusted to look after her robbed her of £950. Callous Jennifer Burns helped herself to the cash from the bank account of Dr Alexina McWhinnie. Ms McWhinnie, a 91 year-old MBE recipient from Newport, said the crime had made her realise how “vulnerable” she is. Burns, 27, of Maryknowe, Gauldry, removed the cash after the trusting pensioner gave her a bank card on the understanding the carer would withdraw cash on her behalf. Dundee Sheriff Court heard that the crime only came to light when the pensioner’s son took a look at his mother’s bank accounts and realised something had “gone awry”. Sentence has been deferred. * For the full story see Thursday’s Courier or try our digital edition.