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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...


Fife man at centre of ‘bedroom tax’ turmoil

September 9 2014

The UK Government’s controversial “bedroom tax” policy could be thrown into chaos later this month. The Department for Work and Pensions is launching a bid to overturn a landmark ruling that size does matter when it comes to defining a bedroom. If it fails, it will set a precedent that could spell the beginning of the end for the so-called bedroom tax. At the heart of the matter is Fife man David Nelson, who won a groundbreaking test case in Kirkcaldy a year ago when top QC Simon Collins ruled that size and usage should be taken into account when deciding what constitutes a bedroom. The DWP will appeal that decision at a hearing in Edinburgh on September 18. It will be the first appeal by the Government on the grounds of room size and this time the decision carries more weight. Mr Nelson is hoping to make history for a second time by persuading the judge to dismiss the DWP’s appeal and uphold the original decision. Campaigners against the “bedroom tax” are expected to attend the hearing from across Scotland and local authorities and housing associations will await the result with interest. The appeal follows MPs voting to exempt disabled people from the policy entirely and ruling social housing tenants should be given a reprieve until they receive a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation. About 75,000 Scottish households are affected by the policy that resulted in people with one spare bedroom having their housing benefit cut by 14% and those with two of more spare rooms facing a 25% reduction in benefit. Mr Collins ruled last year that a room measuring less than 50 square feet is not a bedroom and a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet could only be used by a child aged under 10. The DWP maintains that if a room can accommodate a bed then it is a bedroom. Mr Nelson’s solicitor, Graeme Sutherland from Fife Law Centre, said the decision of the second tier tribunal would be significant. “This is the first upper tier tribunal on these grounds in the UK and it has huge implications for the whole country,” he said. “The DWP are appealing against the first tier tribunal and have decided to take it higher for judicial authority on the matter. “There are many cases across the UK which have followed the Fife decision on room size. “All of these cases would fall either to be underscored or appealed on the grounds of David’s appeal on the 18th. “To be honest, if they say there is no minimum size I think it would throw many local authorities into even worse chaos than they’re in at the moment.” The DWP would have the right to appeal to a higher court should the decision go against them but Mr Sutherland said that would not be easy. “You are speaking about fairly significant expense to take it further,” he said. “If the appeal is unsuccessful on the issue of room size I would hope the DWP would leave it at that. “I think the original decision was sensible and Mr Collins justified his position well so I wouldn’t think it could be considered an error of judgment.” Mr Nelson, who has vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary, said he was looking forward to the next stage of his fight. “I’m quite happy to go to appeal,” he said. “This could set a precedent for the whole of the UK.” The DWP declined to comment until the outcome of the case.


‘Nobody did more for Glenrothes’: Tributes flood in for community campaigner David Nelson

January 15 2018

Tributes have poured in for a Glenrothes community leader who died suddenly on Monday. David Nelson was described as a “colossus” in the town after the 61-year-old passed away at his home in the town’s Lundin Crescent on Monday morning. A prominent campaigner and stakeholder in several local organisations, police confirmed that they had been called to Mr Nelson’s home after he died of a medical condition. Secretary of the CISWO social club, chairman of the Auchmuty Tenants and Residents Association and one of the foremost national campaigners against the so-called Bedroom Tax, fellow town figureheads spoke of the void that his passing will now leave at the heart of the community. Tricia Marwick, the town’s former MSP, said: “I had known David for around 30 years and my thoughts go to his family. “There will be a huge hole in the centre of Glenrothes with his passing. “There is nobody in the history of the town who has done more for Glenrothes than David Nelson. “I’m so glad that in November he was able to see the opening of the new CISWO because I know he put his heart and soul into that over many years.”   In recent years Mr Nelson hit the national headlines after winning a landmark test case against the Department of Work and Pensions over the controversial Spare Room Subsidy, better known as the “Bedroom Tax”, while most recently he was spearheading a takeover of the town’s Warout Stadium in a bid to turn it into a community sports hub. * For more on this story see Tuesday's Fife edition of The Courier, also available as a digital edition.


Glenrothes man ready for fresh ‘bedroom tax’ battle

December 24 2013

A Fife man who won a landmark ruling against the so-called bedroom tax has said that he may have to take his fight to the European Court of Human Rights. David Nelson, of Glenrothes, has told The Courier he will continue his campaign against the Spare Room Subsidy after revealing that the Department for Work and Pensions has been allowed to appeal a decision that ruled a spare room in his home as too small to be classed as a bedroom. Mr Nelson moved to the forefront of a national campaign against the legislation when the ruling was made by a top QC at a tribunal in October. However, he says he always expected the Government to challenge the outcome after QC Simon Collins stated that room size and usage should be taken into account when determining what constitutes a bedroom. He told The Courier: “I’ve been told at tribunal that they have allowed the DWP to go ahead with their appeal. I’m not surprised as I always thought that would happen. I’m going to fight it again but I’m quite happy about it. “The original judgment was that the room is too small to be considered a bedroom. If the DWP win then I will appeal that again. “I will take it to Europe if I have to.” Mr Nelson, 57, successfully argued that his spare room, measured at 66 square feet, was a boxroom and therefore exempt from the Spare Room Subsidy the first in Britain to do so on such grounds. Although he expected a challenge from the DWP, Mr Nelson says he is confident he will once again be victorious, although he has looked at European human rights legislation. “I’ve looked at some of it but I think I’ll still win it here I’m quite optimistic,” he said. “I’ve told them that there is no way that I’m moving. There is no way that they will move me from my home.”


Housing groups ‘quaking in their boots’ after Fife ‘bedroom tax’ judgments

September 11 2013

Landmark rulings exempting several Fife tenants from the controversial bedroom tax could have huge repercussions for the UK housing industry, experts have warned. The decisions by a QC based on room size and usage will have local authorities and housing associations “quaking in their boots”. As Glenrothes man David Nelson celebrated the judgment that his spare room is too small to be considered a bedroom, Joe Halewood from housing consultancy HSM claimed social landlords were now “panicking like mad”. Mr Halewood, who runs the blog SPeye, said a number of English councils had been in touch with him to say they were considering pre-empting lengthy court battles. “Many social landlords have been in contact following the Fife decisions to say they are looking to see if they can unilaterally act to take a room under 70 square feet out of the equation,” he said. “Anyone with rent arrears as a result of the bedroom tax is having court cases adjourned if they have appealed and this can take four to seven months. “In the meantime, rent arrears are building up so it would save a lot of time and money for landlords to just remove the room themselves.” Mr Halewood, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the housing industry, was speaking following a seminal decision by Simon Collins QC that a room of less than 50 square feet cannot be considered a bedroom. He also ruled that a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet can only be used by a child under the age of 10. Mr Nelson had appealed against Fife Council’s decision to cut his housing benefit by 14% because he had a spare room and was one of seven Fife tenants to take test cases to a tribunal. Another three, including Kirkcaldy woman Louise McLeary and Annie Harrower-Gray from Anstruther, were also successful on the grounds their spare rooms are being used for other purposes. Louise, who is blind, successfully argued that she needed a spare bedroom in her adapted home to house braille and other equipment. Mr Halewood said the ruling on room usage was perhaps even more significant than the one on size. “If all bedrooms under 70 square feet were taken out of the equation that would take 70,000 people out of bedroom tax,” he said, “However, of the 660,000 households affected by bedroom tax, 420,000 of them have a disabled resident and very many of them use their bedrooms for storing wheelchairs, defibrillators and the like. “The significance of the bedroom tax tribunal case in Fife cannot be underestimated (sic) and that is not hyperbole.” Meanwhile, a senior MSP has claimed the rulings could devalue social landlords’ housing stock. Alex Johnstone, the Scottish Conservatives’ welfare reform spokesman, said: “There is a potential twist to this in that David Nelson would have paid rent for the room which is no longer classed as a bedroom. “The issue here is whether people who pay rent on similar houses should now have their rent reduced as a result. “It’s one of those issues that will have social landlords quaking in their boots.” He added: “I suspect one of the reasons councils and social landlords were not keen to do this is it would devalue their stock.” For more coverage of the ‘bedroom tax’, see Thursday’s or try our digital edition.


High hopes after ‘bedroom tax’ tribunal hearing

September 19 2014

Campaigners against the so-called bedroom tax remain optimistic following a tribunal hearing in Edinburgh. Glenrothes man David Nelson, who won a landmark test case against the ending of the spare room subsidy, said he was awaiting a verdict from officials after the initial ruling was contested by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Last year’s verdict, which declared that size does matter when it comes to defining a bedroom, made national headlines following the huge controversy surrounding the implementation of the spare room levy. Despite the DWP’s efforts to overturn QC Simon Collin’s decision, Mr Nelson said he remained confident. About 75,000 Scottish households are affected by the policy that resulted in people with one spare room having their housing benefit cut by 1% and those with two or more facing a 25% reduction in benefit. Mr Collins ruled that a room measuring less than 50 sq ft is not a bedroom and a room measuring between 50 and 70 can only be used by a child under 10. The DWP contends that a room is a bedroom if it can accommodate a bed. If the DWP’s appeal fails, it could see the scrapping of the policy altogether.


Fife Council decides not to fight landmark ‘bedroom tax’ ruling

September 17 2013

Fife Council will not contest landmark rulings exempting tenants from the controversial “bedroom tax”. In a surprise move, the local authority announced that, despite having the right to appeal, it would abide by the decisions of top QC Simon Collins that room size and usage should be taken into account when determining what constitutes a bedroom. Mr Collins potentially opened the floodgates for thousands of appeals when he ruled last week that size does matter when it comes to defining a bedroom. However, while the council is not contesting the decisions, the door remains open for the UK Government to submit its own appeal. The first-tier tribunal judge, appointed by the Coalition Government to preside over seven test cases in Kirkcaldy last month, said a room measuring less than 50 square feet is not a bedroom. He also stated that a room measuring between 50 and 70 square feet could only be used by a child aged under 10. The decision on size followed an appeal by Glenrothes man David Nelson, 57, against a 14% cut in his housing benefit because he was deemed to have a spare bedroom. His case was on the grounds that the room in question measured 66 square feet and was therefore a boxroom and not a bedroom. He has welcomed the decision not to contest the ruling, describing it as fantastic news which could have implications for tens of thousands of people throughout Britain. Other local authorities across the UK have been watching the Fife cases with interest, with opinion divided as to their significance. Although they do not set a legal precedent, campaigners have argued the rulings will provide fresh hope for tenants who believe they are unfairly affected by the policy. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is now considering offering fresh guidance to councils on how to apply the spare room levy. Some 2,000 properties across Fife alone could be affected by the decision on size and the council is now considering its next steps. Council leader Alex Rowley said a report outlining the issues and options would be brought before the authority’s Executive Committee in the next month. “It is clear the judgment from the tribunal judge identifies that the definition of a bedroom is a room over 70 square feet as defined in the Housing Scotland Act 1987,” he said. “Whilst the UK Government has brought forward the ‘bedroom tax’ legislation, it does not define what a bedroom is and we therefore have this legal opinion based on the 1987 Act stating that any room below 70 square feet is not eligible for ‘bedroom tax’.” He added: “I have been told that up to 2,000 properties could be removed on this basis but have also been given legal and financial advice which suggests this is not clear cut. “I have therefore asked that a report be brought to committee outlining the issues and options for the council and its tenants and an informed decision can then be taken as to how to move forward with this specific issue.” Mr Rowley is due to meet Mr Nelson today, along with deputy council leader David Ross and a representative from the DWP, to discuss his case. Mr Nelson was surprised but pleased by the council’s decision not to contest the judgment. “It’s brilliant,” he said. “I was preparing myself for going to the next appeal but now it looks like I won’t have to. I thought they would appeal because of the implications this decision has across Britain.”

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

Angus & The Mearns

Angus musician on the bill for Willie Nelson’s birthday bash

April 29 2013

An Angus-born musician has struck a chord with some of the biggest names in country music. Multi-talented musician Laura McGhee is getting set to walk the line with the Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, at a special show celebrating country legend Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday. Laura moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to follow her dream of making it in the music world and has toured all over the United States with her unique brand of country and folk in recent years. The singer, guitarist and fiddle player is writing with John Carter Cash, who also runs the Cash Cabin recording studio and is eagerly anticipating Tuesday’s gig in honour of Mr Nelson. Laura said: “I’m so excited and it’s really cool to be asked to be involved in something like this. “Willie Nelson was quite a big influence on me growing up. I knew a lot of his music so I’m learning one of his songs for the show. “I actually saw him live, in Glasgow believe it or not, so it’ll be nice to do one of his songs.” Laura recently embarked on an ambitious album project which would have infused her Scottish roots and Americana influences on the one CD. However, the project, due to be recorded at the Cash Cabin, never came to fruition, though Laura has continued to work with John Carter Cash, who has been taken by her style, and is preparing new material. “I really want to thank everyone that pledged to the project and helped support it,” she added. “It didn’t quite make it but I’m really grateful for all the support. I met John about three years ago and we played together off and on and we always said we would write together. “However, with people’s schedules out here it’s always hard to arrange that and tie it up. After the album didn’t work out he said there’s still a way we can work together and I’m glad we have been able to.” Laura will be covering Willie Nelson’s He’s not for You at the intimate show on Tuesday and will play fiddle alongside John Carter Cash and friends. Willie Nelson’s iconic long hair, bandana, voice and playing style have carved him out as one of the most instantly recognisable and revered musicians in America, even for fans outside his country style. His most famous hits include “On The Road Again” and “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” but he has also gained notoriety for his support of the campaign to legalise marijuana in America. For more information on Laura McGhee, visit www.facebook.com/laura.mcghee2.


PICTURES: Huge crowds pay tribute to Glenrothes community leader David Nelson

February 5 2018

The great and the good of Glenrothes were joined by mourners from across the country to pay their respects to one of the town’s best known faces. Hundreds of well-wishers descended on Kirkcaldy Crematorium for the funeral of David Nelson, who passed away suddenly at the age of 61. The community champion, chairman of Auchmuty Tenants and Residents’ Association and the secretary of the CISWO club, was known for his ability to get things done in Glenrothes, as well as being one of the foremost national campaigners against the so-called “Bedroom Tax”. Among those paying their respects were the town’s former and current MSP’s, Tricia Marwick and Jenny Gilruth, local councillors, and two coach loads of mourners from the Glenrothes social club with which he was associated. Childhood friend and current town councillor Derek Noble said: “I’d known Davie for the last 40 years. “He worked so hard for the community, particularly the CISWO, and it was great that he got to see the new club open up.” Known simply as “Davie” to those who knew him, Mr Nelson was synonymous with supporting the underdog through his community work. As a founding member of the Auchmuty Tenants and Residents’ Association he was spearheading an effort to transform Glenrothes’ Warout Stadium into a community sports hub, complete with dry ski slope and cancer respite centre. In recent years Mr Nelson hit the national headlines after winning a 
landmark test case against the Department for Work and Pensions over the controversial Spare Room Subsidy, better known as the Bedroom Tax. Such was the size of the crowd attending yesterday’s service that it was standing room only inside the crematorium. Town councillor Jan Wincott was another in attendance and she added: “I had known of Davie through his reputation but it was only recently that I met him. “He will leave a huge void in the town.”