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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...

UK & World

Immigration fears raised in study

December 17 2013

Nearly three-quarters of people think the Government has failed to provide enough information on what will happen when restrictions to the UK Labour market are lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians, a survey has found. A broad study of Britons’ thoughts and feelings towards future Romanian and Bulgarian immigration revealed strong support for tough limits on access to benefits for new European migrants. A total of 80% of respondents to the survey by independent immigration think-tank British Future backed tougher measures. However, 77% said they would welcome migrants from Romania and Bulgaria who work hard and pay taxes, learn the language and become part of the community. British Future director Sunder Katwala said: “The timing of new EU migration from Romania and Bulgaria isn’t popular and people have worries about the pressures it may cause but they’re not prejudiced. “People want issues to be sorted out, not stirred up. If new arrivals make the effort to work hard, contribute and integrate into Britain, most people are broadly accepting.” Temporary curbs imposed on Romanians and Bulgarians in 2005 to protect the British labour market will be lifted on January 1. The Government has refused repeated demands to publish or commission estimates of the numbers expected to enter Britain in the face of unofficial research predicting as many as 50,000 people arriving from the eastern European countries each year. Leading politicians from Bulgaria and Romania have dismissed fears that the change in access restrictions will trigger a wave of immigration to the UK. The British Future survey found that 38% of people think the number of people coming from Romania and Bulgaria will be up to 50,000 in 2014, while 18% believe it will be between 50,000 and 100,000. A further 13% think the number could be up to 500,000. Mr Katwala went on: “The Government has said it’s too unpredictable to put a figure on how many people may come in 2014. “Our report examines how significant the public thinks migration from these countries might be. They don’t think millions from Romania and Bulgaria are about to up sticks, but they do think the numbers could be high enough to mean sensible plans should be in place.”

UK & World

Endangered geese tracked by experts

February 20 2013

Conservationists are tracking endangered red-breasted geese to solve the mystery of thousands of birds lost in migration. More than 90 birds were caught and tagged in Bulgaria to try to find out what happened to geese that disappeared from their wintering grounds along the Black Sea about 10 years ago. Experts from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) are working with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) to identify whether the birds found a new site in Asia or fell victim to hunting, development or changes in farming. Peter Cranswick, head of species recovery at WWT, said: “The data we get will be invaluable to our work with local communities in Bulgaria to work out how we support the remaining geese.”

From the Newsroom

Coming up in Friday’s Courier – Wombling free

April 23 2015

It’s the debate that has raged down the centuries. Were the wombles from Wimbledon Common or were they in fact self-confessed common wombles? Regardless of how your opinion may swing there is one womble-based fact of which there can be no doubt Uncle Bulgaria was the best. And it seems that Bulgaria’s success is not limited to womble form. Coming up in Friday’s Courier we bring you the revelation that the Euro nation has been voted best for bargain-hunting Brits looking to jet off on holiday. Apparently a bumper list of 10 standard holiday items, including a two-course lunch and a three-course evening meal plus wine, will set a couple back just £37 at Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach resort. An offer not to be sniffed at even with a massive stuffed womble snout. In other (sensible) news we have a cracking political exclusive from Nicola Sturgeon, tributes being paid on the Hubble telescope’s 25th birthday and joy for a Fife teen who has enjoyed talent show success. All this and much, much, more in our underground, overground Friday Courier.

Scottish Championship

Raith Rovers ask SFA to investigate Rangers player’s recall

September 3 2015

Raith Rovers have requested that the SFA compliance officer Tony McGlennan investigates whether Rangers broke the governing body’s rules by bringing Ryan Hardie back early from Scotland Under-19 duty ahead of Saturday’s clash between the two Championship sides at Ibrox. The Kirkcaldy club say that Rangers assistant manager David Weir helped secure the player’s release before the Under-19s face Bulgaria tomorrow night. While Hardie will now be available to play at Ibrox, Raith will be without on-loan Dundee striker Craig Wighton who has remained with the squad. In a statement, the club said: “Ahead of Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship match versus Rangers at Ibrox, Raith Rovers FC has today asked the Scottish FA’s Compliance Officer to consider whether he agrees that Rangers FC, through David Weir, have breached SFA Articles and Rules by requesting and securing the early release of its player Ryan Hardie from international duty with Scotland Under-19s in Bulgaria, for the sole reason that he is then available to play against Raith Rovers. “Raith Rovers FC also has an important player in the same Under-19 squad, 1st team regular Craig Wighton. Craig remains in Bulgaria and available for selection for Friday evening’s national representative match. “He will fly home with the rest of the squad on Saturday afternoon. We are delighted that Craig is receiving international recognition, and whilst we are without his services for the crucial match with Rangers, our loss is Scotland’s gain. “Naturally we are concerned that if there is any breach of Article 82.1 and Rules 56 & 57, this would in these circumstances result in an unfairness in terms of players available for selection for Saturday’s match, which is to our disadvantage.” Scottish FA Article 82.1 states: “If any player selected to attend any international or other match arranged by the Scottish FA refuses without good and sufficient cause to comply with the arrangements for playing in such match or fails to attend such match, the Judicial Panel may find him to have been in breach of this Article 82.1, and any club or official or Team Official or other member of Team Staff who may be found to have encouraged or instigated or caused such player so to refuse shall likewise be deemed to be in breach of this Article 82.1 and the provisions of Article 95 shall apply.”

Fife

‘We have nowhere else to put them’: Fifer fighting to rescue five dogs from homelessness

November 22 2017

A Fifer who saved two stray dogs from death while holidaying in Bulgaria is now helping a charity in the country find "urgently" needed homes for five pooches facing homelessness. It comes after Anne Marie Grant, of Methil, said she received a "brilliant" response to an appeal in The Courier for homes for pups Rosie and Lisl, who she found starving and dehydrated while in the Balkan country. The 67-year-old grandmother went out of her way to pay for the dogs to be housed in Bulgarian kennels, vaccinated, micro-chipped and flown to the UK to find new owners. She made the arrangements despite the burden on her own finances. Late last week, nine people came forward from across Angus, Dundee and Fife following the appeal and Mrs Grant said she is "sure" both dogs will end up in "happy" homes as a result. And now she is helping charity Stray Angels Bulgaria, which is based in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, re-home another five dogs after it emerged the "hostel" the animals are staying in will be demolished in early December. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/545370/love-bits-cant-take-fife-woman-saved-starving-bulgarian-pups-desperate-bid-find-uk-homes-articleisfree/ Mrs Grant said: "I am more than certain Rosie and Lisl will be homed now. The people that have phoned me are so supportive. I am fairly certain from talking to them. Many of them, their own pets have died and they are looking for a replacement. "Rescue dogs give an awful lot more than other animals, they seem to respond more to you because they are grateful. I'd encourage everyone to get a rescue dog. "And I have now been contacted by Stray Angels to see if I can re-home five dogs for them. They have got to get them homed. I want to help my colleagues who helped me in Bulgaria." Speaking from Sofia, Nora Vakova - the co-founder of Stray Angels Bulgaria - said the cut-off date for transporting the five dogs to the UK is December 8, and that the work of the charity will be in jeopardy if they do not find families. She added the dogs need "urgently re-homed". The dogs in need of homes are named Eddie, Charlie, Nadia, Cicio and Amor. "They are currently at a hostel that is being demolished. We are an NGO (non governmental organisation), we don't have a shelter of our own for various reasons," said Miss Vakova. "All our animals are either at foster homes or stay at a 'hostel' or 'hotel'. "The five we are speaking about are staying at a hostel that is being demolished at the beginning of December. We have nowhere else to put them. "There is not really anywhere else that would be able to give us the prices we have got there. "We give them all the medical care they require, we get them fully chipped, vaccinated and equipped to travel. All five are ready to travel". She added though the dogs would never be put down by the charity, it would be "very hard" for Stray Angels "to continue with the job we are doing" if new owners are not found. The dogs will cost £200 to be fully prepared and transported to the UK, after which a "vet check" upon entering the country will be required for about £50. Stray Angels and Mrs Grant will make the arrangements with prospective owners. If you are interested in adopting one of the canines call 01592 713 196 or e-mail: grantannemarie411@gmail.com. Alternatively contact Stray Angels. Details can be found at https://strayangels.org/.

News

Immigration from Bulgaria and Romania will not ‘overwhelm’ UK, say politicians

February 4 2013

Bulgarian and Romanian workers will not “overwhelm” Britain, leading politicians from the two countries have said. Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov said many of his compatriots would much rather travel to Germany, Spain and Italy, as his country has stronger business links with those countries. He said there was a danger that fears about thousands of immigrants descending on the UK could possibly “dampen” relations with Bulgaria. Romanian ambassador to the UK Dr Ion Jinga said many immigrants had already bypassed the restrictions by declaring themselves self-employed and finding jobs in sectors such as construction. There are fears that when the ban preventing immigrants from the two countries working in the UK comes to an end at the beginning of next year, thousands will arrive and look for jobs. Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007 but under “transitional arrangements” workers from the two countries were prevented from travelling to the UK. Mr Mladenov said: “I do not expect the UK to be overwhelmed by a wave of our nationals coming over seeking employment for a number of reasons. “When we look at the experience of other countries over the last seven years, this has not happened and there is no reason to believe that this would happen in the UK in the January of next year.”

Dundee

Dundee woman cleared of bringing Bulgarian stun gun hoard to Scotland

September 28 2016

A Dundee woman has been cleared of bringing a hoard of Bulgarian stun guns into Scotland. Holiday maker Niall Dinsmore was caught bringing five illegal stun guns and five truncheons into the country and thought he would escape with a “slap on the wrist”. He was held at Edinburgh Airport as he returned from Bulgaria with his girlfriend Kerri Luff from Dundee, whose not guilty plea was accepted by prosecutors. Dinsmore, 27,  claimed to UK Border Force officials that he bought them as “gifts” but could now face a minimum five years in jail. He pleaded guilty to two firearms charges and possessing offensive weapons at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday. Dinsmore had been on holiday with Ms Luff, 25, in the Sunny Beach resort in Bulgaria. The couple had their luggage checked as they returned to Edinburgh Airport on August 31 last year. Dinsmore had five electric stun guns – disguised as torches – along with five steel batons. The hearing was told he had bought them as presents as he reckoned they were “unusual”. Prosecutor Shirley McKenna added: “He thought he would get a slap on the wrist if caught.” Miss McKenna said he later “attributed his conduct to stupidity”. The court heard the stun gun devices were in good condition and had “an audible and visible display of sparks”. The batons measured 20-inches when fully extended. Dinsmore, now of Bansbridge, Northern Ireland, is now at threat of at least five years in jail for having the stun guns. But, his lawyer said he hopes to convince Judge Lord Boyd that there are “exceptional circumstances” for the electrician to escape a prison term. Richard Souter, defending, said Dinsmore bought the items in “a state of complete ignorance”. Dinsmore had his bail continued pending sentencing in Edinburgh on October 25.  

Politics

Wage difference for Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants ‘stunning’

February 19 2013

A Romanian or Bulgarian family of four would be eight or nine times better off if they were to move to Britain when access restrictions are lifted at the end of the year, immigration campaigners have claimed. A Bulgarian family made up of one individual on minimum wage with a dependent spouse and two children has a weekly income of £62 at home, compared to the £543 they could pocket in the UK, while Romanian families earn around £70 a week. Single workers from the Eastern European countries would be four or five times better off, the study by Migration Watch UK found. A comparison with the conditions Polish workers enjoy in Britain showed the economic incentives for Romanian and Bulgarian workers are twice as great. Migration Watch UK chairman Sir Andrew Green said: “The wage differences turn out to be simply stunning. “The previous government made a huge mistake by agreeing to accession treaties that granted full access to our labour market to workers from countries that have only a fifth of our GDP per head. “Given that the economic incentives for Romanian and Bulgarian workers are twice those now enjoyed by Polish workers, it would be absurd to suggest that there will not be a significant inflow.” Temporary curbs were imposed on Romanians and Bulgarians in 2005 to protect the British labour market, but they expire in December and under EU laws cannot be extended. The Government has refused to provide an estimate on the number of Romanians or Bulgarians it expects to arrive in Britain, but Migration Watch has said it could be up to 50,000 a year for the first five years. Politicians from Bulgaria and Romania have dismissed fears that the change in access restrictions will trigger a wave of immigration to the UK. Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov said many of his compatriots would much rather travel to Germany, Spain and Italy, as his country has stronger business links with those countries.

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

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