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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...

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.

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

Perth & Kinross

Residents of Perth flats cry foul over bins left full for a month

May 17 2011

A dispute between Perth residents and the local authority led to rubbish bins not being emptied for over four weeks. The waste from a block of flats at Morris Court was ignored by collection lorries as they were found to be overfilled, with black bags left out of the communal bins and inside recycling buckets. However one tenant claimed they had "no choice" as they do not have enough space for storing rubbish between uplifts. Nicky Revill contacted The Courier in a desperate bid to highlight the situation as he feels that it is going to keep happening unless they are given a second bin. "In our block there are 12 flats and there is a large communal bin for each block," he said. "After a week the bins are full but Perth and Kinross Council doesn't seem to think that there's a problem. "They think that it's purely because we haven't been recycling properly and have been using the blue bins for general waste. "That was only because there was no room in the green bin and there were already black bags spilling out of the big bucket.Store room full"It actually got so bad that we couldn't even get to the bin and the door to the storage facility couldn't be closed properly. "I don't know about the other residents but my partner and I certainly don't generate enough recycling for it to make much of a difference if it ends up in the green bin instead." As the tenants of Morris Court fought to resolve the conflict they were forced to endure the smell of the ever-increasing rubbish pile. There were also concerns about children playing near the bins, as some of the bags had spilled out of the storage area and into the residents' car park. Although Nicky admits he did consider using the bins in neighbouring blocks, he decided against it as he felt it would only make the problem more widespread. He added, "If we had put our rubbish in those bins then it would have just become an even bigger issue. I have tried talking to the council to see about getting an extra bin but they just seem to be keen on us recycling more. That's all very well but it totally depends on every resident making the effort not just one or two. "Everyone has to be doing it or it just won't work." While the bins have now been emptied and the extra bags of waste disposed of, the tenants at 49-60 Morris Court are now facing a financial penalty for this and the work done to clear up the area. This has enraged Nicky as he feels the residents are not liable for the problems over rubbish disposal. Continued... "The system at Morris Court is just wrong because it's not very accessible," he continued. "I don't think we should be getting charged for the uplift because we are already paying council tax for these services. "It is probably going to keep happening as well because, just a couple of days after they were emptied, the bins were practically full again." A spokeswoman from Perth and Kinross Council confirmed the bins had not been emptied at Morris Court due to being overfilled and excess waste being left out. She said, "The council has been working closely with the building's factor to resolve the matter. "The factor, having authorised a clean-up of the bin store, has written to residents advising that the works will be carried out and the costs charged directly to them. "The council has also written to residents asking them to ensure that the bins and bin store area are kept tidy and free of excess waste and that they separate recyclable waste into the correct containers. "Blue recycling bags have been provided to residents to help with this process. "All bins have been emptied and normal uplifts will be carried out as per the collections schedule provided that the bins and bin store are kept in a suitable condition."

Readers' letters

Lies, damned lies and barrels of bad data

November 22 2013

Sir, I note your leader column (Tuesday’s Courier) about the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report on Scotland’s economy. The report is a case of “bad data in” equals “bad data out” and bad conclusions. The IFS has used oil price projections from the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by Chancellor George Osborne, and, like the IFS, it is by no means neutral. It is staffed by City-trained and London-centric top-down, neo-classical, laissez-faire economists just likethe Treasury (HMT). The OBR and HMT have a reputation for forecasts that suit London’s short-term agenda by overestimating UK growth to help the Westminster Government and, in particular, underestimating North Sea oil prices. The other problem with using OBR data is that it forecasts Scottish oil and gas industry revenues by using what’s known in statistical analysis as an outlier, a statistical anomaly that is markedly different from others in a sample. Normally, when projecting economic data based on market prices, you would not use an outlier but a mean figure or one more representative of the whole sample. The OBR oil forecast is for an oil price of $98.00 per barrel but the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a well-respected multilateral financial organisation, takes data from the 28 most-developed economies in order to make projections and it is predicting an oil price of $190 per barrel in 2020. This means there is almost a $100 per barrel gap between outliers and instead of using a median figure, the IFS used the lowest outlier. Plug in the OECD upper outlier figure or the UK Government’s own Department of Environment and Climate Change’s forecast metric or the Scottish Government’s conservative projections and you get to a clear picture of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. Jim Duthie. 74b Gray Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Mr Salmond is no Mandela Sir, Dudley Treffry mentioned that independence served to create kleptomaniac leaders who served themselves, not their people (The Courier, 11/11). I lived and worked in South Africa, which during apartheid and afterwards was ruled by one political party both the white and black governments abused their power for their own benefit. President Nelson Mandela was a very special type of person who fully believed and practised reconciliation as far as possible. The ANC did not follow his lead. The SNP appears to be heading in the same direction. They have already overturned decisions made by local councils. A “yes” vote will see them with little opposition and they will soon forget any promises made. Mr Salmond does not have the attributes of President Mandela. Mike Wood. 10 Graham Court, Dundee. Clocking the difference Sir, Jack McKeown’s article on the swastika in The Courier (13/11) failed to mention one of the most important aspects of this symbol. There are two, distinct types of swastika: the holy symbol that has been used peacefully for centuries and the adapted version used by the Nazis. The former has outer legs which point in an anti-clockwise direction, while the Nazi version has outer legs which point clockwise. In the picture with the article, the swastika on the lad’s hand is the Nazi version. With this lack of appreciation of the difference between the two symbols it is possible that those who display the original version for peaceful or religious reasons may be vilified by those who are ignorant of the difference. Dave Forsyth. 112 Garvock Hill, Dunfermline. Long fall from hill to knoll Sir, It may surprise those raised on the Camelot myth but the news from Dallas 50 years ago tomorrow provoked a mixed reaction in the Californian college where I was astudent. Classes continued, after which I went surfing at Malibu and I only became aware of the reaction elsewhere in the US and in Europe when my father phoned from the UK. Before 24-hour news and the internet America was loosely connected but Californians were aware of JFK’s womanising, Marilyn Monroe and his father’s mob connections. Our student newspaper often mocked his oratory: a bombastic inauguration speech which led to the Cuban fiasco and his assurance to Berliners that he was a jam doughnut. The fact is his presidency was stalled, especially on civil rights, and my black pals were hoping for a future White House with Lyndon Johnson or Hubert Humphrey. But as occurred after the death of Princess Diana, television swept the nation up in a tsunami of maudlin nostalgia for a wholly illusory loss of hope and innocence. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

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.

UK & World

Are Oasis reforming for Manchester tribute gig?

June 1 2017

Rumours are circulating that Britpop legends Oasis are re-forming for a benefit gig in their home city of Manchester this weekend. The speculation was kick-started by a member of The Black Eyed Peas, who tagged the group in a post about Ariana Grande's One Love Manchester show on Sunday. The concert was organised in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack last week, which left 22 dead and a further 64 injured. Free tickets have been offered for Grande fans who attended the concert which was targeted by an alleged suicide bomber. Katy Perry, Take That, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus and Usher will all play alongside the US pop star at the concert. Taboo Nawasha, a member of the Black Eyed Peas, tweeted about the gig; tagging all the musicians and bands that will play at the Old Trafford Cricket Grounds. Oasis were included in the original tweet, which was quickly deleted. https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869907050691608579 https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869906670436007937?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fmetro.co.uk%2F2017%2F05%2F31%2Fwhen-and-how-to-watch-ariana-grandes-one-love-manchester-concert-6675547%2F https://twitter.com/TabBep/status/869907050691608579 Nawasha then posted that he had made a mistake and put the mention of the rock group down to "human error". Classic Oasis single Don't Look Back in Anger rose up the charts last week after the people of Manchester adopted it in the wake of the terror attack. Oasis are among Manchester’s most famous and cherished musical exports, though the band split up in 2009. They are one of the most symbolic groups of the 1990s and the Britpop era. The band was fronted by brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, who have been at loggerheads since the split. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/uk-world/434338/video-beautiful-moment-people-manchester-turn-silent-tribute-oasis-dont-look-back-anger-articleisfree/ However commenting on the rumours on Radio 1, Liam said though he is "up for it" - it wouldn't be possible due to his solo commitments in Germany this weekend.  

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.

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

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

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