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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

Bad games park supporters accuse council of failing to keep its end of the bargain

March 15 2012

An Arbroath community group has launched a scathing attack on Angus Council over its performance in maintaining a local park. The Association of Residents of Cliffburn and Hayshead raised more than £270,000 to buy play equipment and lighting, but say it's been allowed to become run-down. However, the council hit back and said it maintains every play park in Angus to the same standard but cannot stretch its budget to repair repeated vandalism. Association chairwoman Margot Reilly said the community park has not been kept to the high standards they would expect over the past six years. In 2002 the residents association entered into a partnership with Angus Council as part of the regeneration of Cliffburn. She said: ''We were conscious that the facilities were completely inadequate and the existing park had one piece of equipment in it. ''In 2004, we called on Angus Council to improve the park as part of the regeneration process and were told they had no money to do so. ''However, the council did suggest that if the residents association could find funding to re-equip the park then the council would maintain it in perpetuity. ''After a monumental effort by all our members my association eventually managed, from a variety of funding bodies and by fundraising ourselves, to raise £256,000 towards re-equipping the park. ''We were astonished when the council told us that there would be no lighting in the park, as this was not council policy. ''We argued that the whole idea of having a fully-equipped park was to offer distractions to young people who hung around street corners and shop areas but without lighting the young people would not be able to use it after 4pm from October to April. ''Eventually, the council agreed that if the residents association could find an additional £15,000 then they would install lighting and that we should consider a green option of wind and solar power." Continued... ''Fortunately, further funding bids were successful and the money required was found. ''Being lay men in terms of procuring lighting we agreed with what we thought was expertise and solar panel and wind turbine lighting was erected. ''However, these were fraught with difficulties right from the outset and were so easily vandalised that it brought into question the so called expertise that we received. ''Six years on from the opening of the park none of the lights now work and we have no guarantees from Angus Council that some sort of alternative will replace the now useless lighting.'' Margot said the park ''sometimes looks a bit scruffy.'' She added: ''Pieces of equipment have been removed by council officials and not replaced, some of which were removed years ago and fencing and bins around the park could do with a lick of paint. ''We do understand that the park suffers from vandalism, which of course we condemn completely, but we are not alone in Angus. ''Where we are alone is that we raised all the money to re-equip it in the first place and surely the council should honour their commitment to maintaining it to a decent standard?'' A spokesman for Angus Council said: ''The equipment at Cliffburn has been repaired or replaced on a regular basis, but there are currently three items out of order until additional funding can be identified for their repair or replacement. ''Unfortunately, our maintenance budget cannot support the repeated replacement of vandalised items of equipment. ''We ask members of the public who witness any acts of vandalism to our parks equipment to contact the police or report it to the council through our ACCESSLine 08452 777778 or at any council offices. ''The replacement of the lighting units has been included in the council's capital spending budget for 2012-13.''

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

New owners lined up for administration-hit Arbroath pubs

September 1 2011

Arbroath's pub trade may be set for a boost, with two bars in line for new owners. Liquidator CS Corporate Solutions has confirmed the Central Bar in Brothock Bridge had been leased to a "prospective purchaser" and the Newgate Inn in West Newgate is likely to be sold soon. Both previously belonged to Aberdeen firm Arbrothock Bar Company, but were passed to the control of CS after the firm ran into difficulty with tax bills. A court order saw the company "wound up" and the liquidator was ordered to get the best price for the remaining parts of the pubs. The lifeline for them comes amid rumours that the Crown Inn on West Abbeygate could be set to reopen after more than a year. Once one of the most popular watering-holes in the town, it shut suddenly in March last year, leaving a note to customers in the window thanking them for their support. The Newgate has been shut for several months and it is likely the building will be sold at auction, with locals hoping it remains a pub. Liquidator Charles Sands of CS said: "The Newgate is being repossessed and will be in the control of its secure creditors Commercial First, and it will be up to them how they go about dealing with it. "The Central has continued to run until a buyer can be found, and has now been rented out to a prospective purchaser. "Both premises continued to incur a trading loss while under our control."Pubs neededthe Angus branch of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association last year appealed for residents to support the region's pubs following closure of the two bars. Recent years have painted a mixed picture for the Arbroath pub scene, with some faring better than others. The Victoria Bar in the Westport closed its doors around the turn of the year, but in contrast the Cliffburn Hotel has re-opened, been fully refurbished and is looking to build up a strong customer base. Councillor David Fairweather said it was important to have a selection of licensed premises in any town, both for residents and visitors. He said: "If we are going to see more pubs opening up then that is great news for Arbroath." Meanwhile Arbroath's Pubwatch scheme, aimed at making the town safer at nights, has enjoyed early success, with 16 premises signing up to get involved. The initiative sees staff at bars, pubs and clubs communicate to deter violence and anti-social behaviour. Regular meetings have been held with police to discuss ideas and provide feedback. Information on those behaving in an aggressive or threatening manner is quickly passed around in a bid to stop them gaining access to any of the pubs. Drinkers involved in violent, criminal or anti-social behaviour behaviour will be dealt with by the police and banned from all Pubwatch locations.

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

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.


Courier proves Seville’s claim as Spain’s oldest football club

February 7 2013

A 123-year-old page of The Courier is to hang in the offices of the Spanish Football Association after it was revealed that, thanks to an article in the paper that day, Sevilla FC can officially claim to be Spain’s oldest club. The Courier revealed in September that the discovery of the club being founded 15 years earlier than previously thought was due to the story on page four of the paper from March 17 1890, which details how a group of young British, mainly Scottish, men met in a pub in Seville on January 25 that year to celebrate Burns Night. Along with some Spanish friends, they decided to form the country’s first official football club, and, word having reached back to Dundee, The Courier carried an article documenting the club’s act of constitution. As a result, current members of the club say the article can be considered the founding document of Sevilla FC. The president of Sevilla FC, Jos Mara del Nido, was presented with a copy of the page, certified by the British Newspaper Archive, by the club’s history department on January 25, 123 years after the club’s formation. Another print of the page will be presented by the club to the Spanish FA. Grant Millar, marketing executive of Dundee online company brightsolid, which hosts the online version of the British Newspaper Archive, was told of the presentations by Spanish researcher Javier Terenti. Javier said: “The page in question contains a treasure for the history of Spanish football, since it is an article that describes in detail how the club was founded 15 years earlier than it was thought, thus being Spain’s oldest football club. “The article that is extremely rich in detail shows how the club’s founding date was not a coincidence. “Everything suggests that that Saturday 25 January, 123 years ago, a group of young British, mainly Scots, along with other young men of Spanish origin, met at one of the cafes in the city and celebrated Burns Night with the excuse of founding the first football club in Spain. “Among the most prominent Scots was the club’s first president, EF Johnston, and first captain, Hugo MacColl, who later, upon returning to the UK, became chairman of Sunderland Burns Club. “The discovery of the club’s Act of Constitution within an old edition of the Dundee Courier has been published not only in Spain but also in several important newspapers outside the country.” Mr Carlos Romero, director of the club’s history department, said: “It’s a beautiful article that chronicles the adventures of those first ‘Sevillistas’, in which the following paragraph appears: ‘Some six weeks ago a few enthusiastic young residents of British origin met in one of the cafs for the purpose of considering a proposal that we should start an athletic association, the want of exercise being greatly felt by the majority of us, who are chiefly engaged in mercantile pursuits. After a deal of talk and a limited consumption of small beer, the “Club de Football de Sevilla” was duly formed and office bearers elected.” Mr Miller added: “The reason why this important report was published in the Dundee Courier is probably due to the fact that, at that time, tonnes and tonnes of Seville oranges were loaded on steamships, travelling from Seville to Dundee for the manufacture of the city’s famous marmalade. “However, this connection between Seville and Dundee could even go further if we take into account that two of the members of the Sevilla Football Club at that time, D Thomson and Robert Thomson, could have been related to DC Thomson, founders of the Dundee Courier.”

Angus & The Mearns

Residents following Cornwall’s lead to better Arbroath

May 30 2013

Arbroath residents have embarked on a fact-finding mission to Cornwall in a bid to improve life in the Angus seaside town. Connecting Communities (C2) originally started in Cornwall and is credited with turning around the fortunes of communities in the county. Where the programme has been promoted health indicators such as drug and alcohol use and teenage pregnancy rates have fallen significantly. Vandalism and petty crime have also decreased and people’s perceptions of quality of life in the area have been transformed. It is hoped that the links will continue in the future to ensure that the lessons learned in Cornwall can be replicated in Arbroath. The fact-finding mission was attended by representatives of Timmergreens Action Group, Bruce Road Community Flat and the Association of Residents of Cliffburn and Hayshead. The trip was organised by Timmergreens Action Group and C2 to see how the pioneering programme is able to support the community at two projects in Cornwall. The Arbroath contingent visited the Beacon Community Regeneration Project and the Redruth North Partnership during their trip. The Beacon Community Regeneration Partnership has worked tirelessly to improve the homes and lives of people living in some of the disadvantaged areas of Falmouth. Throughout the years the group has received both national and local recognition winning several awards such as the NHS Nye Bevan Award in 1999, the Cornwall Employment Service Partnership Award in 2001, the Queen’s Jubilee Award in 2003 and the Carrick District Council Recognition of Success Award in 2004 and many more. The community initially got together to improve housing in the area and successfully secured £2.2million funding in 1997. The money was used to regenerate the areas by improving the housing including work on insulation, cladding, central heating and installing new windows as well completely renovating some properties. The Redruth North Partnership was formed to improve life for residents after a Mori poll found only one in 100 people felt safe on the streets at night. This resulted in the group working to implement a voluntary curfew known as Operation Goodnight where parents were asked to ensure their under-16s were home by 9pm. This resulted in older residents being able to feel safe in their homes and when going out after dark. It also resulted in crime overall falling by 67%. Kevin Barthorpe, an Arbroath resident who made the trip, said: “I would like to see all areas of Arbroath work together to make it better for all residents whether it is for those already residing here or newcomers to the town. “If we don’t work in true partnership with others we will not be able bring things to the people of Arbroath.” ARCH representative Lynda McLean said: “We found it very interesting. We have also learned that groups can work together and there also seems to be no signs of apathy between groups down in Cornwall.” Joan Mesney, from Bruce Road Community Flat, said she hoped the whole of Angus can benefit from the fact-finding mission. She added: “I hope to keep in regular contact with the groups in Cornwall.” TAG chairman John McCrank said: “It reinforced what C2 was about and it is hoped it will create a greater working partnership between the groups in Arbroath” Fore more details email John at tagarbroath@hotmail.com.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

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