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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...


Funding fears for Fife fireworks

October 14 2017

Fears have been raised that Cardenden’s annual bonfire and fireworks display is about to fizzle out due to a lack of cash. The 2017 spectacular, one of the few main organised Guy Fawkes Night events left on the calendar in the region, will go ahead as planned in the village’s Wallsgreen Park on Friday November 3. However, there are now concerns locally that next month’s gathering will be the last as the costs of laying on the event continue to spiral. Alex Burns MBE, chair of Cardenden Community Bonfire Committee, has urged people to do what they can to save their local spectacle before it is too late. “We would like to invite everyone along to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display and the lighting of the bonfire,” he said. “But due to ever increasing costs we might struggle to organise an event next year." Mr Burns said first aid and insurance costs had risen and the cost of the fireworks had gone up by £500 this year. The group also had an additional financial burden in the shape of landfill costs totalling £1,500 that were paid to Fife Council last year. Organisers estimate that this year’s event will cost the committee in the region of £7,000, which will drain its existing budget. “Although we are fortunate to receive financial support from various sources, which is greatly appreciated, it is our belief that this year’s community bonfire and fireworks display might be our last," added Mr Burns. “With this in mind we would like to appeal to the many people who attend our event to help us out by adding a donation to our collecting cans. “Every little helps and we appreciate all financial support received.” Kevin Sayer, Fife Council’s Cowdenbeath community manager, acknowledged the work that goes on locally in putting on the annual display and said he hoped people would get behind the event. He said: "The bonfire at Cardenden is eagerly anticipated every year and the committee who pull this all together do a great job year after year. “It would be really disappointing if this were not to continue due to the costs involved. "While Fife Council does not fund events such as this directly, each of the seven area committees have their own community budget to spend. “Any community group can apply to the committee for financial support and councillors will make a decision on what the priorities are for their area." This year’s Cardenden bonfire and fireworks display will go ahead on November 3 at 7pm.


“I’m not very sure how we can overcome this”: Anger as Cardenden’s last bank to close

February 16 2017

The closure of Cardenden’s last bank will be a huge blow to the town, a leading community figure has said. David Taylor, the secretary of Cardenden Community Council, said that the decision by the TSB to close its branch will hinder efforts to attract more people to the town. The bank will close its doors in June, a move that will force residents to travel to Kirkcaldy or Glenrothes for one-to-one financial services. “I was shocked when I heard the bank would be closing,” said Mr Taylor. “The Royal Bank of Scotland closed a few years ago, and while it might be alright for the youngsters with mobile phones, we have an ageing population here and people like to go into a bank instead. “It will also affect local businesses that need access to banking services, as they’ll have to go to Kirkcaldy instead.” Though only open on Tuesday’s and Friday’s, Mr Taylor said that the TSB offered a lifeline banking service for people living in Cardenden. When the Royal Bank of Scotland closed its branch in the town in 2013, Mr Taylor was confident that many residents would transfer their business to the TSB, however, the bank has said that its decision has been taken due to a lack of trade. Mr Taylor also said that the lack of a local bank would impact on trying to attract new people to Cardenden. Describing the move as a significant blow, he added: “I’m not very sure how we can overcome this. “We are trying to expand the village, not shrink it, but how are we expected to do that when our services are being taken away?” Carol Anderson, Scotland branch and business banking distribution director at TSB, said: “Our presence and investment in Scotland remains strong and we’ll continue to make banking better for Scottish customers. “That means investing in the branches that people are using and closing those that people just aren’t. “We want the right branches in the right places and we’re also investing in our digital services. “That way, we can continue to offer people the best of both worlds and meet their banking needs.”


“Little devils” blamed for vandalism to community Christmas tree

December 2 2016

A community Christmas tree has been trashed by vandals just days after being erected. Memorial baubles containing messages to deceased friends and relatives were among the items destroyed by heartless yobs in Cardenden. Broken glass and decorations surrounded the tree in the town’s community garden on Friday morning, with the light switch-on having taken place only last week. The vandalism is believed to have taken place on Thursday evening, with the scale of the destruction angering one community leader. David Taylor, secretary of Cardenden Community Council, said that the return of a traditional Christmas tree had been the last wish of a local resident. “Last year we used one of the existing trees but we placed a memorial plaque in the garden earlier this year for a person whose wish it was for a proper Christmas tree to be brought back. “We went to a lot of trouble putting it in place with coloured lights on and it looked great. “We also sold small memory baubles for people. “People paid and put little messages inside for loved ones. “It’s very disappointing this has happened.” Huge crowds gathered in Cardenden’s community garden last Friday to witness the turning on of this year’s tree lights, an event organised by the Cardenden Environmental Group It marked the return of a traditional Christmas tree to the town, the last wish of community stalwart Helen Wilson following its absence last year. Special glass baubles were made available at a local shop, with residents paying £3 to put them on the tree in memory of a loved one. However, the remnants of these were littering the ground throughout the community garden on Friday morning, and while Mr Taylor said that the mindless destruction had angered him, he said it was not entirely unexpected. “The people who have done this are just little devils,” he added. “We try to do everything we can for people and this is exactly what we feared would happen.”


Cuts to Fife police stations ‘most worrying’

October 9 2013

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Jayne Baxter has hit out at proposals to close Cardenden’s police station to the public. Meanwhile, East Neuk and Landward councillor Elizabeth Riches has claimed the proposed lack of a police counter service for the area was a retrograde step for local communities. Of 14 stations in Fife, 12 face having their opening hours reduced, with six being closed to the public entirely. Only two Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy will face no changes in their opening hours. The Labour MSP said she was extremely disappointed to hear the plans, which could see Cardenden’s public counter close entirely. “Every public body is having to make difficult decisions about cuts and make savings forced upon them by the SNP Government in Edinburgh but it is not yet clear to me whether there will be suitable alternatives provided by Police Scotland for the communities affected by these cuts,” she said. “Police Scotland have admitted they don’t have the IT network to support modern service delivery, so surely we should stick to some tried and tested methods of contact with the public if we don’t have suitable alternatives in place. “For some time now, Cardenden has had a part-time police station but soon it won’t be open to the public at all. “Cardenden is losing its public counter but it wasn’t even included in the study which guided these proposals.” Ms Baxter, who has written to the justice secretary expressing her concerns, added what was needed was a formal, public consultation on these plans. “People need to be assured of the safety of their communities and know where they can go to reach a local police officer,” she said. Meanwhile, Mrs Riches is worried the police presence available for the East Neuk was becoming more and more distant. “Our officers now start and finish their shift in St Andrews and our community officers are likely to do the same in the near future. This must cut down the available time for policing where we need a police presence. “To hear of the latest proposals to cut the police counter service at the police station in Anstruther is most worrying.” She claimed a survey measuring visitors to the station found on average two members of the public used the counter service per day, compared to more than 200 who contacted the police by other means. “However, I could not establish when the survey took place but I was told that it lasted for 10 days only,” she said. “I am amazed at such a short timescale for a survey of this sort. “I fear we are on a slippery slope of eventually losing not just our officers sited in the East Neuk and our counter service likely to go but we will see the closure of the police station all together, with all action from either St Andrews or Leven. “We have already heard of the suggestion that one chief inspector will cover the Leven and north-east area. I worry that statistics with little basis are being used to make decisions on future policing. “The East Neuk population may not appear large but what cognisance has been taken of the fact that each of our villages has at least one large caravan park and we have very many holiday homes that are rented out, so our population numbers swell considerably during the summer months? “Our low crime rates are the result of good, decentralised policing. What is being proposed is centralisation of the worst sort that has the risk of undoing years of carefully-developed policing.”


School’s security lights make awkward bed partner for Cardenden man

September 2 2014

A Cardenden man says he is being left in the dark as to why security lights are being allowed to shine into his bedroom. Gilbert McGovern claims he is unable to sleep at night because of lights attached to the local primary school. The Carden Avenue resident has been in dialogue with Fife Council for years over the issue but has had no joy in convincing the local authority to either move or shade the lights to prevent them shining into his property. “There’s been a problem since the school was built,” he said. “It happens at all times of day and night and the lights from the building shine right into my bedroom. “There’s meant to be a sensor that switches them off at 9.30pm. However, there are food deliveries and milk vans arriving at 4am and 5am and it keeps setting the lights off.” Cardenden Primary School was opened in August 2010 and, like most schools, has security lights installed on the building to reduce its vulnerability to vandalism. However, the angles at which they have been installed, coupled with sensors that detect nearby movement, mean that the lights are frequently activated at night, shining directly into Mr McGovern’s home. Although he acknowledges the purpose of them, Mr McGovern says that following a hip replacement operation in 2010 he already has difficulties in being able to sleep soundly at night. “I don’t get much sleep as it is and the light going off is the last thing I need,” he continued. “Other people are concerned as well. There are about four houses affected. It’s like somebody putting on your bedroom light in the middle of the night. “I spoke to somebody at the council and they told me to buy blackout curtains.” David Taylor, secretary of Cardenden Community Council, was contacted by Mr McGovern regarding lighting at the school. He added that despite dialogue with the local authority, Fife Council still had work to do to satisfy Mr McGovern and other residents. “This should be really simple to rectify,” Mr Taylor said. “The lights just need to be pointed down a bit or have deflectors fitted but it’s just not happening. “It’s not just Mr McGovern, other people have been complaining as well. We have been in contact with Fife Council for a while now but they’re just not prepared to act.” However, the local authority has defended its stance on the lights, saying that it has worked with local residents but that they must remain in place. Dawn Cook, capital programme team manager, said: “The lights at Cardenden Primary school were designed to ensure the safety and security of all pupils and staff and to help prevent vandalism out of hours. “We have worked with local residents and councillors to mitigate any adverse effects from this lighting on the neighbouring houses. “However, it is important that these lights continue to operate to ensure the ongoing safety and security of the building users.”


Sheriff blasts mother-of-six benefits fraudster who cared nothing for the “sick, weak and unlucky”

September 28 2016

A Fife mother-of-six who falsely claimed benefits of more than £100,000 has been jailed for 16 months. In an unusual outburst, Sheriff Michael O'Grady QC told Nicola Ann Sheddon it would be "the sick, the weak and the unlucky" who would suffer from her fraud. The 43-year-old, of Denfield Avenue, Cardenden, Fife, admitted obtaining £61,544,41 from the Department of Work and Pensions between April 1, 2008, and May 16, 2014. Between April 1, 2008, and February 22, 2009 she also fraudulently claimed £12,636.26 from Edinburgh City Council in Housing and Council Tax Benefit. Another £28,509.67 was claimed in Housing and Council Tax Benefit from Fife Council between October 5, 2010, and May 4, 2014. On Wednesday, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the grand total of benefits claimed without good reason came to £102,690.34. Sheddon's 17-year old daughter, who was in court, will have to give up her job to look after her younger sisters. When Sheddon was sentenced both she and her daughter burst into tears. For the full story get Thursday's edition of The Courier.

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


Calls for dog owners to help keep Cardenden clean

January 18 2018

A dog fouling epidemic is blighting beauty spots in a Fife town, a community leader is claiming. Residents of Cardenden have complained of a huge surge in the problem in recent months, despite tough new plans to target offending owners. The matter was recently discussed by Cardenden Community Council, when members demanded action to prevent the problem spiralling out of control. David Taylor, secretary of the group, said it was now looking at new ways of persuading residents to pick up after their pets. “We are trying to encourage people to clear up after their dogs," he said. “It seems to be prevalent throughout the community, it’s no longer just specific areas that are affected. “It’s hard because we want to keep Cardenden clean for everyone but I think everywhere is going the same way. “I go down to Kirkcaldy to walk along the prom and it is littered with dog muck. “You have to keep one eye on the footpath instead of the sea.” Last year it was revealed that Fife dog walkers caught without a bag to clean up their pets’ mess could face fines. The tactic has already been employed by local authorities south of the border to battle against negligent owners. People who are caught without a bag could be liable to a £100 fine. In 2016, the Scottish Government introduced the Dog Fouling (Fixed Penalty) (Scotland) Order, doubling the penalty for owners who allow dogs to foul from £40 to £80. It followed a consultation at Holyrood on responsible dog ownership, which received an overwhelming response from the public in favour of tougher penalties for inconsiderate owners. Local councillor Rosemary Liewald said dog fouling was antisocial and presented a health hazard to members of the public. She added: “I have two dogs and I know that most dog owners and walkers are highly responsible and carry bags to clean up after their pets. “However, we cannot ignore the fact that there are some who are not doing this.”


Fife toilet sell-off leaves bad odour for council

October 8 2013

A Fife community council is kicking up a stink over plans to auction off a disused toilet block. Members of Cardenden Community Council have called on Fife Council not to sell the former conveniences on Main Street, citing worries over whether a private owner will maintain the prominent building. David Taylor, secretary of the community council, believes the area has already been blighted by the influence of absentee landlords and has pleaded with the local authority not to allow the toilets to fall into a similar position. He contacted The Courier to say: “At first Fife Council decided they would demolish the block but in the last couple of days they appear to have decided to auction the building off instead. “Obviously, selling the building off will get them money, which they think is a good idea. “However, they have done this before when two buildings in Cardenden were sold off to private people and they have been sitting as eyesores ever since. “This is still in Fife Council’s hands and we don’t want the toilets sold off. We’re trying to improve the village, not knock it back.” The toilets have been closed off to the public for some time and will be sold at auction, despite Fife Council confirming it looked into demolishing the block. The local authority has also stated no conditions will be placed upon any buyer should they wish to buy the toilets, adding to the community council’s concerns. Michael O’Gorman, service manager for estates with Fife Council, said: “The toilets are surplus to requirements and are being offered for sale. “The sale was suggested by environmental services as a budget-saving proposal and stems from the need to reduce revenue costs in the light of the financial pressures being experienced by the council. “Consideration was given to demolition. However, rather than incurring the cost of demolition, as there is a prospect of securing a modest income receipt, it is to be offered for sale. “There will be no conditions imposed on the purchaser in respect of redevelopment timescales. “A planning application will be required for a change of use or other material alterations. Any such consent will be time limited.”