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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...


Perthshire homeowner victorious in battle with council over five inches

September 9 2013

Perth and Kinross Council has failed in a costly bid to force the owner of a Highland cottage to tear the roof off because it was raised by five inches during a renovation. Mark Stewart spent £20,000 on legal bills in a two-year battle to save his home in Kenmore’s conservation area. He bought the dilapidated building three years ago and spent almost a quarter of a million pounds upgrading the “eyesore”. Not one resident objected to the overhaul but council planners ruled the roof should not have been raised and took enforcement action. Mr Stewart, 44, from Fife, said: “It’s cost me the best part of £20,000 in legal bills just to fight the case for the sake of raising the roof five inches. “The neighbours have been more than happy that somebody bought the building and done it up. It was a complete and utter eyesore in Kenmore. Everybody I speak to, everybody I got to know has been supportive. We didn’t have one objection. “The only problem we came up against was Perth and Kinross Council’s planners. “They actually wanted me to knock it down and redo it for the sake of five inches basically destroy everything, more than £200,000 worth of work, take it down and rebuild it for that.” Tam Tiffney, 68, of East Coast Building Services, who worked on the property, said: “If we were to keep the roof to the original height, we would have had to lower the walls by five inches, which they wouldn’t have been happy with either. “So they were asking us to do the impossible. Perth planning department was just a nightmare. They had their minds made up from the word go and would not deviate from that. Whatever we said was knocked back.” Mr Stewart’s lawyers appealed the council decision to take enforcement action and the Scottish Government sent independent planner Dan Jackman to assess work done on the category C listed building. He ruled the difference in the height of the roof was “not significant” and the renovation had seen a “significant enhancement to the character and appearance of the conservation area”. Mr Jackman concluded: “Overall, I am satisfied that the renovation as carried out enhances Kenmore Conservation Area, has no adverse impact on the special interest of a listed building and would secure the long-term future of that building.” Perth and Kinross Council described Mr Jackman’s findings as “disappointing”. “An enforcement notice and listed building notice were served on the developer because the work carried out on the building did not conform to the previously granted planning permission,” added a council spokeswoman. “Due to the extensive differences, the council was not in a position to grant retrospective planning permission.” Mr Stewart is now seeking the completion certificate he first applied for two years ago but he will not now be reimbursed for the legal fees he paid out. He said: “I’m £20,000 out of pocket, for nothing. And God knows how much it has cost the Perth taxpayer in legal bills.” The council spokeswoman pointed out Mr Stewart “had the opportunity to seek expenses during the appeals process and chose not to do so”. Mr Stewart added: “I know it’s too late for me to get anything back but I want to draw attention to how awkward the council planners are being with people. If it saves a couple of businesses from going bust, that’s perfect.”

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

Council punished for listening to local opposition to Calliacher wind turbines

April 3 2015

Perth and Kinross Council has been ordered to pay up after Scottish ministers ruled it acted “unreasonably” and bowed to public pressure when it blocked plans for a highly controversial windfarm expansion. Multi-million-pound plans for a new seven-turbine development at North Calliacher, one of Scotland’s biggest windfarm sites, were rejected by councillors in the face of widespread opposition last year. Perth-based I&H Brown has now successfully forced the council to reverse its decision, following an appeal to the Scottish Government. In its findings, the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) criticised the council for acting unreasonably, claiming councillors had been “unduly influenced” by objectors. The council has now been told it is liable to pay I&H Brown’s appeal costs, which are believed to run into tens of thousands of pounds. Windfarm campaigners said the appeal sector’s ruling had set a “dangerous precedent” for future large-scale developments and described it as a “slap in the face for local democracy”. The project involves an expansion of the 14-turbine Calliacher development, near Amulree, which was swung into place in 2013 next to the 68-mast Griffin site. Opponents called for the plan to be scrapped, arguing there was an “over-development” of turbines at the beauty spot. The plan was knocked back by members of the development management committee last summer. They argued it would have a negative impact on the local landscape. In his report, DPEA reporter Dan Jackman said the council had provided “little evidence” to back up its reasons for refusal. “The council’s appeal statement invited me to attach weight to the feelings expressed in the letters of representation, without explaining the planning harm,” he said. “I conclude that the council has acted unreasonably. “It has been unable to support its reasons for refusal and has been unduly influenced by local opposition, with insufficient assessment of the planning merits of the case.” He said the council’s “unreasonable behaviour” had resulted in I&H Brown having to pay to take the matter to appeal. A spokesman for the company said: “It is over two years since we applied for planning permission to develop North Calliachar. “The actions of Perth and Kinross Council in refusing the original application are hard to comprehend and we take some small satisfaction in being awarded expenses against the council who were found to have acted unreasonably. “This will allow us to partially recover the costs of the appeal.” A council spokeswoman said it was “disappointed” with Mr Jackman’s ruling and said the terms of his decision would be considered carefully. Scotland Against Spin (SAS), a national group which campaigns for Scottish energy policy reform, also condemned the findings. Chairman Graham Lang said the decision was a “slap in the face for local democracy, reinforced by a slap to the council’s wallet”. “We have seen a reporter attacking a council for giving weight to objection letters,” he said. “Such letters are evidence in themselves and so long as they are based on planning grounds they must be considered something it would appear the reporter has not done. “It is not up to the council to explain or assess the planning harm, that’s the reporter’s job. To say that elected members were ‘unduly influenced’ by local opposition is an insult to the committee.” Helen McDade, head of policy at conservation group the John Muir Trust, said: “This is a disturbing decision that has serious implications for local democracy and for the spectacular landscapes of Highland. Anyone who values local democracy will be concerned that a single unelected individual can overturn a decision by elected councillors, despite the appeal process not offering these councillors and the wider public the opportunity to give oral evidence explaining their decision.”Local reactionResidents andcommunity groups who mobilised to fightthe North Calliacher development yesterday spoke of their disappointment at the ScottishGovernment’s ruling. “So much for local democracy,” said Nan Johnstone, who chairs Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council. “While it was frustrating that the planning officer recommended the North Calliacherapplication for approval, at least representatives had the opportunity to have their say at thedevelopment control committee. “Local people believe the 84 turbines already in existence are more than enough and therefore the cumulative effects ofcreating a furtherindustrial landscape of seven turbines should be more pertinent tothe decision-makingprocess. “But it would appear Mr Jackman hasdismissed the relevant arguments put forward by local residents,Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council and the John Muir Trust, to name but a few.” She said a public inquiry should havebeen held. “It is extremely disappointing thatthe aforementionedparties were denied an opportunity to give oral evidence that may have resulted in a differentoutcome.” She added: “It is astounding that thedeveloper is now going to be awarded costs.It appears that local residents are beingpenalised for trying to protect their environment from industrialisation.” Susan MacKinnon said: “I felt I spent quitea lot of time readingthe documents andputting my arguments forward, as did a lotof people and to someat quite an expense, butto be denied the nextstage of the planningprocess seemed totally unjust and felt likewe were being ignored.”

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.

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


Weight a minute! Perthshire’s Battling McLuskeys reclaim ‘heaviest twins’ title

November 18 2015

A pair of Perthshire-born pensioners have claimed back their heavyweight title from a set of Edinburgh challengers. Earlier this week, Alanna Merrie’s twin boys Kaius and Troy were reported to be Scotland’s heaviest new-borns, weighing a total of 16lb 13oz at birth. But local man Bernard McLuskey said he and his twin brother William were nearly 1lb heavier tipping the scales at a collective 17lb 8oz when they came into the world on June 17 1944. In their childhood the pair became known as the “Battling McLuskeys” and were well known on the Tayside boxing circuit. While the Edinburgh babies were born by caesarean section on November 4, the Perthshire twins were born naturally. Years before the advent of the NHS, their mother Catherine delivered them in a farm cottage at Dalcrue with just the help of her mother-in-law. The youngest of six children born to Catherine and her husband Ben, William weighed 8lb 8oz, while Bernard arrived at a hefty 9lb. Bernard, who now lives near Pitcairngreen, said his mother swelled to an enormous size during her pregnancy. The 71-year-old said: “According to my sisters she was hiding from everybody for months because she was wider than what she was high. She wasn’t very tall. “We were told when we were young that we could have been the heaviest kids in Scotland at birth but we never bothered to check if it was a record. “I saw the article in The Courier yesterday and then looked up our weight and we were heavier.'My mum was a wee solid woman'“I’m not saying we are the heaviest there could be some people heavier than us. I don’t know.” He said that sturdiness is a family trait. “All our family were all big people, strong people. We are not fat but strong-built. My dad was big and my mum was a wee solid woman. My siblings were all the normal 8lb or 9lb.” During their childhood Bernard and William, who now lives in London, and their brothers Jim and George were well known across Tayside and Fife for their sporting prowess. Bernard said: “We were called Bill and Ben at Methven school. We went there when we were five and cycled there every day for ten years. “We were all boxers and all sports champions, every one of us, at Methven. “We were boxing at five and a half years old and there was a big thing in The Courier in 1949 about me and my twin brother fighting each other.” According to Guinness World Records, the heaviest twins recorded were Billy Leon and Benny Loyd McCrary, alias McGuire, from the USA. They were normal in size until the age of six but in November 1978, Billy and Benny weighed 337kg (743lb or 53st 1lb) and 328kg (723lb or 51st 9lb) respectively. Professional tag wrestlers, they each had waists measuring 2.13m (84 in). Billy died at Niagara Falls after a fall from a mini bike, on January 13 1979 aged 32. Benny died of heart failure in 2001.More twin facts:Tallest, male 7ft 3in Identical twins Michael and James Lanier of Troy, Michigan. Tallest, female 6ft 7in Identical twins Ann and Claire Recht of Oregon, USA. Oldest 102 years - Pierre and Paul Langerock, Belgium. Most sets - 16 - The first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707c.1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia. Her name is not recorded. Consecutive generations - 4 - Rollings family (UK); Taylor family (USA); Sims family (UK) Longest separated - 77 years, 289 days - Elizabeth Ann Hamel (ne Lamb, USA) and Ann Patricia Hunt (ne Wilson, UK) were born on February 28 1936 in Aldershot and separated for adoption. They were reunited in Fullerton, California, USA on May 1 2014. Longest interval between births 87 days Amy Elliot was born prematurely on June 1 2012 to Maria Jones-Elliot of Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Her sister Kate followed on August 27. Oldest person to give birth to twins 66 years and 358 days Maria del Carmen Bousada Larain Barcelona on December 29 2006.

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.

Scottish League 2

East Fife 3 East Stirlingshire 1: Naysmith’s heart-to-heart with striker pays dividends

September 1 2014

East Fife boss Gary Naysmith revealed that a heart-to-heart with Kevin Smith helped the Fife forward turn in a man-of-the-match performance against East Stirling. The Fife striker had admitted to the Methil boss that his form had been out of sorts but he bounced back in some style on Saturday. Smith grabbed the Fifers’ second goal of the game as they cruised to a 3-1 win at Bayview to secure their first points of the new season. Naysmith heaped praise on the impact that Smith had on the game. He said: “I thought Kevin Smith was different class. He’s a strong boy and really looks after himself. “I’m glad for him because I spoke with him after the Albion Rovers game. I was a bit worried because he hadn’t really been playing as well as I know he can. “I asked him if everything was OK off the field but he was honest enough to say ‘gaffer I’ve just been terrible’. “He said he’d work hard to put it right and did that.” The Fifers dominated what was a pretty scrappy opening to the game before taking a deserved lead. Scott Smith’s corner wasn’t cleared and the ball fell kindly for Jon McShane. The striker took a touch before firing past Richard Barnard. It should have been 2-0 just a few minutes later when McShane turned provider for Smith. But six yards from goal the striker turned his shot over the bar. Smith made up for his miss, though, when he created space for himself on the edge of the area and fired a shot towards goal which caught a deflection and looped over Bernard. Youngster David Maskrey pounced on a loose ball to fire home the third his first senior goal before Jordan Tapping headed home a consolation for Craig Tully’s side.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.