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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...

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

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

Farming news

Taxation of partnerships

March 4 2014

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December included a focus on cracking down on ‘tax avoidance’. A big part of this is a review of partnership tax law. George Osborne said to the Commons “we will ensure that the tax advantages of partnerships are not abused”. Partnerships are the most common business structure in the family farming sector, meaning many farming businesses will need to carefully consider their position in light of this. A particular immediate impact is with ‘mixed partnerships’. Typically this means partnerships that contain a mix of individuals and limited companies. The ‘corporate partner’ pays a much lower rate of corporation tax; therefore, by channelling a portion of the profits into a ‘corporate partner’, the partnership reduces its liability for income tax and national insurance. Draft legislation was published by HMRC in December that may reduce the future tax benefit of having limited companies as a partner in the farming partnership. This structure has been a very efficient way to pay less tax on profits that need to be reinvested in the business as working capital. Using a limited company owned by other family members can also be a useful way of passing on some of the family wealth without individual family members having to become partners in the business. However, HMRC believes that tax avoidance is being carried out and has drafted new rules to counteract this perceived abuse. We have been studying these new rules and analysing how they may impact. The rules have immediate effect but will not be retrospectively applied. Many farming businesses have enjoyed the tax benefits up to now of having this partnership structure in place, but each affected farming business will need to consider practical ways of dealing with the new rules. Continuing to allocate profits to the corporate partner will not be prohibited. However, it is clear that future profit shares allocated to corporate members will have to be ‘reasonable’, taking into account the capital invested and services performed by thecompany. Each business will have a different solution to this problem. In cases where a reasonable amount of profit can still be allocated to the company, retaining the status quo may be the answer. For those where the annual tax benefits will no longer be there, it may be time to take the company out of the partnership and either wind it up or use it for some other purpose. Or you could consider alternative ways of using a limited company other than it being a partner in the partnership. Given the current lower levels of prices for many farm outputs, the concern about paying tax may not be uppermost in many farmers’ minds, but planning to minimise tax when higher profits return needs to be put in place before the event to maximise the business options available. There are a number of possible solutions that can allow the business to continue to minimise its taxes and even although these rules are still in draft, partnerships with “corporate partners” should review their position as soon as possible. There still remain other ways of reducing taxes, such as pension contributions, timing of expenditure on repairs or qualifying plant and equipment, and introduction of other partners that should be considered along with the use of companies. *Robin Dandie is head of agriculture at Johnston Carmichael and is based in the Forfar office.

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.

Business comment

Local priorities must not be lost

June 14 2017

Concerns, I have a few. After what Malcolm Tucker could only describe as an omnishambles of an election, Theresa May and her acolytes are trying their damndest to cling on to power. But whether that is in the country’s best interests or their own is very much a subject for debate. From a business perspective, the political machinations at Westminster are much more than a distracting sideshow. Make no mistake, instability at the highest levels of government and uncertainty about our future economic path will be the dominant subject in boardrooms up and down the country right now. And when that’s the case, a period of lower investment, slower growth, fewer new jobs and economic morass often follows. Only time will tell if that is the case here, but with the Brexit negotiations so close at hand it is hard to imagine our large corporates being happy to dispense with their largesse right now. If I were them, I too would be looking at the rainy days ahead and putting aside some pennies, especially when the UK’s negotiating strategy is so ill-defined and our hand so weak. The Brexit vote left the UK economically isolated and I accept that Theresa May has had to play the cards as they were dealt. But by calling a disastrous election, she let her guard down and handed the other high stakes poker players round the EU negotiating table an unintended advantage at a crucial moment. It was a spectacular own goal and one I fear the UK may rue long after Theresa May, David Davis and Michael Gove are consigned to being names in modern studies textbooks. Away from the Brexit negotiations, there are other domestic priorities I hope don’t get lost in this political whirlwind. The key one for this part of the world is the Tay Cities Deal, the UK and Scottish Government-backed investment package that is so vital to the long-term prosperity of Dundee, Perth, Angus and north-east Fife. City deals are already providing investment and jobs in other areas of Scotland but until the ink is dry on the Tay Cities package then none of us should rest easy. The economic health of this region depends on it. ghuband@thecourier.co.uk

Readers' letters

University’s commitment to communities

August 19 2016

Sir, - As you have reported many times, the University of St Andrews is committed to develop our own sustainable energy sources at Guardbridge and at Kenly to counter the potentially damaging effects of rising external energy prices on local jobs and to play our part in providing a cleaner and sustainable future for Scotland. We expect and respect the fact that there is both support and a measure of opposition to such plans, particularly at Kenly where we have proposed a small windfarm with cable connection to the grid in St Andrews. As you have also reported, we specifically decided not to ask local communities to consult with us on the cable route because at present there is a significant doubt over the viability of this project. Without a radar mitigation solution, it is very unlikely that the windfarm or the cable can proceed. At present there is no immediate prospect of a solution. Asking communities to become involved in a consultation for a cable which may never be laid, connecting to a wind farm which may never be built would have been potentially confusing and disingenuous. We have made very clear that if or when a radar mitigation solution is found, we will consult fully with communities. Recently, one or two of your correspondents have ignored these facts and attempted to argue that our decision not to consult at this stage equates to “outrageous” behaviour which holds our communities and councillors in contempt. Please let me assure you it does not and the facts do not lend credibility to such pejorative attacks. We take consultation and engagement very seriously and have a proven track record on proactive community consultation. Our rescue of the Byre Theatre, our support for an independent trust to run the botanic gardens, our involvement in the St Andrews Town Commission on Housing and our work around the transformation of the Guardbridge site to a green energy centre are just some of the developments which bear recent and important witness to that. Derek Watson. Quaestor and Factor, University of St Andrews.   First investment by foundation Sir, - I write with reference to your story, Dundee set for £11 million boost to economy in first year of the V&A (August 5). Michelin Dundee is extremely supportive of the V&A Dundee project and very excited about what it will mean for our employees, the community and Dundee’s regeneration as a whole. However, we need to make it very clear that while the team in the Dundee factory were instrumental in the construction of a partnership with the V&A and presenting its potential to the Michelin Corporate Foundation, it is not sponsoring V&A Dundee or even the Michelin Gallery within it, as stated in your article. This funding is coming from the Michelin Corporate Foundation, a charity set up by the Michelin family in France to back projects related to innovation, sustainability, heritage, mobility and other issues across the world. Dundee should be very proud that this is the first investment made by the Michelin Corporate Foundation in the UK, and Michelin in Dundee will be working closely with V&A Dundee but the 25-year investment is coming from the foundation. David Johnson. Michelin Tyre plc, Campbell Road, Stoke-on-Trent.   Work together to crack crime Sir, - In response to Jim Crumley’s column, The Glorious Twelfth – a Victorian throwback? (August 16) I would like to say that while it may be difficult for Jim to accept some inconvenient truths about the grouse shooting sector, gamekeepers, estate workers and landowners are very much involved in golden eagle conservation. Furthermore, sporting estates play a key role in the conservation of a wide range of bird species. I want to make it crystal clear that we fully condemn illegal acts and the persecution of raptors and we completely support the Scottish Government’s decision to investigate the alleged disappearance of some satellite-tagged birds. However, our issue with the RSPB on this occasion, was their decision to seek media attention around August 12 before working alongside partners in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime who are working to eradicate illegal behaviour. On these particular bird disappearances, the police have said they will not be investigating any crime. However, efforts to probe such disappearances would be greatly enhanced by RSPB building relationships and working with land managers on the ground. There is no clear evidence of the golden eagles in question having even died in the Monadhliath area, let alone having been persecuted on grouse moors. Whatever has happened, the sharing of evidence and theories around alleged incidents would surely be a beneficial first step ahead of seeking headlines. It has been shown time and again the most effective way of eradicating wildlife crime is working constructively together. Tim Baynes. Scottish Moorland Group, Stuart House, Eskmills Business Park, Musselburgh.   No need for new Dundee store Sir, - You have featured for more than one day the continuing saga of the Next superstore application in Dundee. Your articles have perpetuated the myth of the “extra” 125 jobs to be created but have failed to mention the jobs that would be lost elsewhere. The waterfront development is an imaginative attempt to attract cultural tourists to the city. Perhaps the next step for the authorities should be to produce a brochure showing that Dundee has the fewest boarded-up shops in Scotland, if not the UK. Profits from local shops, bars, restaurants and coffee shops are spent locally while large firms send theirs south or increasingly across the Atlantic. Dundee needs another superstore like it needs another Tay Rail Bridge Disaster. Sandy Constable. The Health Store, 95 Commercial Street, Dundee.   EU fudge starts to develop Sir, - The concern of the Remainers in the Brexit vote was the likely inability of government and its various agencies to capitalise on any freedoms or opportunities that Brexit might bring because in the past 44 years Britain has not been required to show much commercial initiative. Instead, it has been largely concerned with implementing EU compliances and directives, and the entire government and civil service have never known a time when Britain did anything else. Indeed, it is now clear that the wonderful new commercial world of Brexit was as big a myth as Scotland’s recent claim of being able to finance its independence, and so Brexit has proved an expensive emotional luxury thus far. In time we might be able to translate gung-ho into commercial reality, but that is a long and expensive journey. What is now happening, of course, is the inevitable fudge, where Britain and its EU partners come to new accommodations, as the Brussels elite realise the mistake of their overbearing management style, and our position within the nest is being improved to the point where it will not be worth the paperwork and effort to exercise Article 50. Malcolm Parkin. 15 Gamekeepers Road, Kinnesswood, Kinross.   SNP now faces internal critics Sir, - At the Edinburgh Book Festival, Alex Bell revealed in a debate that SNP internal polling showed that the dogmatic and sometimes abusive online cybernats cost them support in the run up to the 2014 independence referendum. As one of Alex Salmond’s former aides he has more insight than most into the thinking of the party’s strategists. He also criticised the White Paper published at that time for an economic case that made no sense, describing it as “drivel”. This summer of revelations from current and previous figures in the SNP hierarchy and party machine continues, as all manner of previous assertions and denials are being debunked. When the long-awaited SNP refresh of its case for independence is finally launched it seems it will need to focus as much energy responding to critics from its own side as from opponents. Keith Howell. White Moss, West Linton.

European Central Bank: US tax law could erode Europe’s tax base

February 5 2018

Economists at the European Central Bank said the US corporate tax cut should lift the world’s largest economy in the short term – but could erode the tax base in European countries by intensifying global competition for lower rates.The cut in business taxes will provide a “significant fiscal stimulus” to growth in the US and would be “positive in the short term”, an article set to appear in the ECB’s regular economic bulletin said.It warned that long-term effects are less clear, especially if the cut leads to larger US budget deficits.Effects on the 19-country eurozone are “highly uncertain and complex”, but could include tax base erosion if countries around the world compete by lowering their tax rates to attract businesses.

Readers' letters

Simple solution – keep schools where they are

August 13 2016

Sir, - The anguish, debate and delay, tainted with uncertainty about Madras in St Andrews rumbles on. There has been blood, sweat, tears and copious amounts of newspaper print expounding views upon solutions to the unresolved problem in hand. Much has been spent on administrative, architectural and legal fees without a clear pathway emerging. The nub of the problem stems from the difficulty of finding a site for new schools. Let us consider a new solution: no new sites are required at all. In the short term, all remedial work must be carried out at Madras and Kilrymont. Fife Council and Madras College should form an ad hoc committee that will engage with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and organise a competition to determine an architect deemed capable of submitting the best plans to use both sites appropriately. Established rules for such competitions do exist. The winner would be awarded the job, with the two runners-up receiving a small cash sum. The rector, a small number of staff and some pupils should prepare a brief detailing the extra accommodation needed and encourage dialogue with the architects. As there would be no requirement to purchase sites, a budget of £40 million could hopefully be agreed. In no circumstance should PFIs be considered as a quick fix to aid funding – some Edinburgh schools having ended up as a heap of bricks. In the case of Madras, the major challenge would be architectural plans to extend the school in a sympathetic style to original designer William Burn’s, using similar building materials. Temporary accommodation could be sited in the grounds to the north, facing the street. The project should have appeal to conservation architects. Upgrading and extending Kilrymont School might be less straightforward – much depends on whether the current building contains asbestos. The most radical solution may be to demolish it, building on the grounds and using the area where the existing building once stood as playgrounds. Building replacement schools in this way has precedent in Edinburgh and Glenrothes. The prospect of the monumental scale of work and disruption would be immense – forward planning being essential during the examination times. However, once work starts, pupils, staff and parents might begin to feel better about the situation. Sheila M Walker. Tom Morris House, St Andrews.   Elected mayors can heal divide Sir, - In Scotland the political parties have tended to shy away from the idea of elected mayors for our cities. They should still note with interest the nomination of shadow home secretary Andy Burnham to contest that role in Greater Manchester for Labour(August 10). Should he be successful he will almost certainly play a key role in trying to bridge the north-south divide south of the border. Theresa May offered some fine words outside 10 Downing Street the day she assumed office. She promised to stand up for all those struggling to make ends meet, and who felt isolated from mainstream politics. She went straight in and named a Cabinet whose senior members were made up of MPs from the Home Counties and London. Under her predecessor at least George Osborne represented a seat in the north and could claim some credibility for trying to establish a powerhouse there. He has now gone and the new premier will have her work cut out trying to convince people she takes what happens north of the Watford junction seriously. Mr Burnham can play an important part in helping her to do that. Healthy and prosperous Scottish and English cities are essential if devolution of power is to be taken seriously in these islands. It would be tragic if the new premier was to leave a legacy of serious division between the nations and regions she claims to want to unite. Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes.   Let down by pharmacists Sir – I really feel there is a desperate need for greater transparency within the pharmaceutical industry and there needs to be much more competition so patients are not disadvantaged. Having been on a certain brand of medication for several months I went to renew my prescription only to be told the pharmacists could not get the brand from the wholesaler. Having checked with the manufacturer they informed me there was no problem with production, yet every chemist in my area told me the same story. It appears wholesalers and pharmacists are putting cost ahead of patients, for some people changing brands can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. As a consumer I feel very frustrated and let down by an industry where it seems whole-salers and pharmacists can hold customers to ransom without them being able to do anything at all. That is a very bitter pill to swallow, and I know I am not alone in this issue. Things need to change urgently. Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth.   Arrogance of Ahmed support Sir, - The people who travelled to support Tanveer Ahmed as he was being sentenced for the barbaric murder of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah should have been arrested and charged. Their arrogance outside court, as they maintained the sentence wasn’t justifiable, only highlights there remains in this country a hard-line Muslim prescence intent on imposing themselves as the law here, and shaming all other Muslims wanting to make their home here peacefully. Eric Travers. Gellatly Road, Dunfermline.   Criticism is of SNP’s failures Sir, - The increasing negativity that R Clark refers to, (Letters, August 10) is not against Scots or Scotland or our ability to get on in the world, but to the SNP Scottish Government. The reason for this is that we are seeing a wide range of devolved functions struggling in Scotland at present, and people are correctly putting the blame at the door of those responsible for administering these. Widespread and growing criticism may be a new thing for the SNP but this is what happens when any government starts to lose control of the remit it has been given and tries to deflect attention by threatening to play the constitutional card again. What we are seeing today in Scotland is that when things start to get difficult Nicola Sturgeon and her apologists don’t have any answer other than to take offence at any criticism of them and try to suggest the country as a whole should be offended. Victor Clements. Mamies’s Cottage, Taybridge Terrace, Aberfeldy.   And the point of FM’s Berlin trip? Sir, - Am I alone in wondering what on earth was the point of Nicola Sturgeon’s trip to Berlin this week? Alastair L Stewart. 86 Albany Road, Broughty Ferry.