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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


Dunblane residents are seeing red over dog mess menace

June 19 2013

Irresponsible Dunblane dog owners will be left with red fa(e)ces if they don’t clean up after their pooches. The local community council is trying new shock tactics to get dog walkers to pick up after their pets by spraying dog mess deposited in parks and open spaces with bright red paint. The community council, which is being supported by Stirling Council’s land services, was inspired by Polmaise Community Council’s campaign to patrol the village and spray any dog mess with the paint to raise awareness and embarrass those who don’t clean up after their pets. The community council will display posters from the council’s award-winning Bag it and Bin it campaign and will hand out leaflets and dog poop bags to pet owners to highlight the problem blighting beauty spots. Community councillor John Alexander said: “The community council is determined to get on top of the dog mess in and around the town. With the support of the council, who provided the paint and publicity material, we hope people will start taking responsibility for their dog’s mess and bag it and bin it. “Any bin will do, even your grey bin at home or a public litter bin, as long as it’s bagged.” Stirling Council environment convener Danny Gibson congratulated the community council on its commitment to tackling the issue. “Our land services team, animal control officers and community wardens will help and support the community council where possible to challenge the irresponsible behaviour of dog owners who feel it’s not their responsibility to pick up their dog’s mess.” The council is warning dog owners who don’t pick up their pet’s poo that they may be fined up to £60. A land services spokesperson said: “We fully support the community council in their efforts to rid the town and parks of this terrible blight and we would encourage dog walkers to Bag it and Bin it by taking it home and putting it in their grey wheelie bin. If they happen to pass a street litter bin or dog bin on the way, the bag can be put in one of these.”

Angus & The Mearns

Home-made dog share stations set up as Angus communities continue fight against litter

February 15 2018

Dog share stations have been developed in Angus as communities continue to fight the county’s litter scourge. Community groups have been innovative in the way they have designed and promoted their homemade stations which are up and running in East Haven, St Vigeans and Keptie Pond in Arbroath. The dog share stations are part of a campaign to increase awareness and responsibility among dog owners following the Angus Litter Summit. Wendy Murray from Angus Clean Environments (ACE) said: “Volunteers in many communities across Angus are engaging with dog owners to raise awareness about the serious issue of dog fouling. “Sometimes it’s about a conversation and on other occasions it’s about sharing bags with walkers and handing out biscuits. “The idea of dog share stations developed because community groups generally don’t have the funding to maintain a free supply of bags for dog walkers. “Commercial dog stations are very expensive, not just to buy, but also to maintain. “The idea of the homemade ones are that members of the public contribute and take ownership of them by keeping them topped up with bags.” The East Haven construction also hosts a dog biscuit box; the one from St Vigeans is made out of everyday items; and the station at Keptie Pond links with the theme of 'flower bikes' connecting the town. The Angus Litter Summit group is now dissolved and the new ACE group has been established to act as an umbrella group for all those involved in taking forward work to reduce waste and litter. Other work in the fight against fouling includes re-energising the Green Dog Walkers (GDW) scheme which now has a new Facebook page for people to sign up. Flora Cairnie, founder and co-ordinator of Carnoustie Canine Capers, said: “The idea is to help keep our streets, parks and beaches free from dog litter. “The key message is ‘Bag it and Bin it’ — ‘Leave only Pawprints’. “Individuals sign the pledge which does not cost anything. “They agree to carry extra poo bags. “If pledgers see someone who is not picking up they can offer them a poo bag. “Additionally, if a dog walker has forgotten a poo bag, the person can ask the pledger for one. “It is friendly and non-confrontational.” Carnoustie Canine Capers regularly fund-raise to purchase biodegradable poo bags and those who sign up are given a bag of 50.

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

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.


Former brother-in-law says SNP were warned of ‘tyrant and bully’ Bill Walker

August 23 2013

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's office was given evidence that Bill Walker was "a tyrant and a bully" before he became an SNP MSP, it has been claimed. Walker, 71, an independent MSP for Dunfermline, was convicted of a string of domestic abuse charges spanning almost three decades following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. The First Minister has urged him to resign his seat in the Scottish Parliament. Walker’s former brother-in-law Rob Armstrong said he gave court documents to a staff member in Ms Sturgeon's parliamentary office in February 2008, years before Walker was elected and subsequently convicted for domestic abuse. SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said such allegations were "absolutely correctly" passed on to the party as they would not be a matter for an MSP's office. Mr Armstrong said the staff member "photocopied certain newspaper articles and advised me that she would pass this on to the executive and that I should expect to hear from someone in the executive in due course. I never heard anything further." When asked if the documents contained "hard evidence" about Walker's past, he said. "Yes. There was also the judgment of a Swindon court, where a judge described William George Walker as a tyrant and a bully." Ms Fabiani said Ms Sturgeon's constituency office acted "absolutely correctly" in passing the information to headquarters. "It's not a party office," she said. "It's your office as representative of the Scottish Parliament, and when someone comes in with a party issue the MSP's staff would say quite clearly that it's not a parliamentary matter, it's not a matter for the MSP." The SNP's vetting process is "stringent" but it is difficult to weed out liars, she said. She said: "We're not the police. We know that Bill Walker is a consummate liar. He denied everything in court. We know that he is manipulative and it's very difficult to get through that sometimes." Ms Fabiani said Walker should "never set foot in our parliament again" but acknowledged that parliamentary rules only permit MSPs to be ejected if they serve more than a year in prison. She added: "It was a summary case, so he won't go beyond a year whatever the sentence is. This has to be discussed and there will be many calls for that, and we should be discussing with Westminster how the rules can be changed." Sheriff Kathrine Mackie found the 71-year-old, from Alloa, guilty of 24 offences, which all took place between 1967 and 1995. She said he was not “a credible witness”. Mr Walker, elected for the SNP in 2011 but now serving as an independent MSP, denied all charges. Sheriff Mackie said: “There was evidence showing the accused to be controlling, domineering, demeaning and belittling towards the three complainers, his former wives. “The evidence also showed him to be untrustworthy, disloyal and unfaithful towards others including his present wife.” Walker, who has so far refused to stand down from Holyrood, will be sentenced on September 20. First Minister Alex Salmond and SNP leader Alex Salmond said: “Although he has yet to be sentenced, in my view someone convicted of these offences is not fit to be a public representative and therefore he should stand down from the Scottish Parliament and allow the people of Dunfermline to elect a new MSP. “Mr Walker was expelled from the SNP in April 2012 and his conviction by a court of law reinforces his expulsion.” Labour’s Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty said: “Bill Walker must now allow West Fife to be served by an MSP who is capable of performing the role properly and resign from the Scottish Parliament straight away.” A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “It’s astonishing the SNP thought this man was fit to be an MSP after Nicola Sturgeon’s office was informed of a number of allegations against him.” Labour’s Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker also called for Walker to stand down for his “vile conduct” which she said “shames the Scottish Parliament”. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “What sort of message would it send to victims of domestic abuse if Bill Walker was allowed to keep his seat in Parliament despite his conviction?” Walker refused to comment outside the court following the verdict but stood beside his solicitor, Russel McPhate, who made a statement on his behalf. Mr McPhate said: “Mr Walker is obviously disappointed to be convicted of all the charges. “The verdict and, in particular, the comments of the sheriff will be very carefully considered. “In the meantime, he would like to thank his wife, his family, his colleagues, his staff and his friends who have supported him throughout this ordeal, which of course has lasted since March last year and is not over yet.”

Perth & Kinross

Public urged to help collar irresponsible dog owners

February 12 2014

Irresponsible dogs owners are being targeted as part of a new campaign. Hotspots have been unveiled across Perthshire, including near a local primary school and a quiet residential area. In a bid to tackle the problem, Perth and Kinross Council is asking people to help identify those who fail to clean up after their pet. The local authority has launched the If They Don’t Bin It Drop Them In It initiative, targeting streets near Craigie Primary School in Perth and Newton Street, Keay Street and George Street in Blairgowrie. Temporary posters have been unveiled in these areas, asking members of the public to call in confidence about anti-social dog owners in the neighbourhood. At the same time, increased patrols will be carried out by Animal Welfare officers, aided by police officers, community wardens and Greenspace rangers. They will approach dog walkers, offer dog waste bags and give details of the campaign. Any information received will be followed up, which will include sending warning letters and where there is sufficient evidence, issuing fixed penalty notices. Environment convener Alan Grant said: “Dog mess not cleared up is unsightly, unpleasant and a health risk. “By increasing targeted patrols and seeking the public’s support to report as much information as possible about incidents of fouling, we are looking to really push home that clearing up after your dog is simple to do and makes a real difference to our streets, paths, parks and green spaces for everyone who uses them.” Although only a small minority of dog owners fail to pick up after their pet, the Animal Welfare teams regularly receives complaints from residents about fouling. Community safety convener Douglas Pover said: “The campaign is intended as a reminder that not clearing up after your pet is unacceptable for lots of reasons and I hope this new approach will play a part in encouraging the minority who still don’t pick up their dog’s mess to act responsibly.”

Angus & The Mearns

VIDEO: Sadness as massive 40ft whale washed up at Monifieth beach dies

March 21 2018

A rescue mission to save a whale which washed up on a beach near Monifieth has turned into a recovery operation after the animal was found dead. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team was called to a stretch of shoreline between Monifieth and Barry Buddon shortly before 6pm on Wednesday following earlier sightings of what appeared to be a cetacean that had live stranded. HM Coastguard from Carnoustie and Arbroath were called to assist, as was the RNLI’s inshore lifeboat at Broughty Ferry, but volunteers eventually discovered that the whale – which has been identified as a 12-metre (40ft) sperm whale by experts on site - had died. Teams were out in the pitch darkness to try to secure the site, and warned members of the public not to visit the beach for their own safety. Paul Smith, the BDMLR’s Fife and Stirlingshire co-ordinator, revealed that an initial sighting was made by a dog walker at around 3pm, although he confirmed the sad news that the whale did not survive. “It wasn’t notified until later on but we’ve obviously responded with our team and we’ve found it subsequently dead,” he said. “We’re just doing a search at the minute of the beach to see if it is just the one animal, and there is a possible concern of things showing up on Thursday morning. “We’re keeping an open mind but at the minute it’s confirmed as one.” https://www.facebook.com/broughtyferrylifeboat/posts/1025381290942238 Whales are regularly spotted in the waters off the east coast of Scotland, but Mr Smith admitted it was not a usual occurrence to spot a sperm whale of this size in the Tay. “We get a lot of animals and there are a lot of whales traversing all these waters and these migration routes. You do get a lot of species and we get whales which visit this part of the world,” he added. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/622760/pictures-photos-show-scenes-on-tayside-beach-after-huge-sperm-washes-ashore/ “But it is uncommon to get big whales visiting the Tay like this – they’ll pass by certainly but it’s not very often they come in. “The problem with sperm whales is that it’s the wrong species in the wrong area. They don’t do well on the east coast. “They should be on the west coast and there’s nothing out there on the east coast for them to eat, so it’s more than likely that it has suffered dehydration or starvation and it has succumbed. “It could also be ill, but we don’t know until we do a post-mortem.” Experts were expected to revisit the beach at first light, but Mr Smith warned people to stay away and let those doing the recovery do their jobs. “We don’t want anybody down there because this is now a biohazard,” he stressed.” “It’s going to start deteriorating -  you can get a lot of nasty diseases from these animals so we don’t want anybody down there.” The whale was spotted by a man who was walking his dog by the shore. The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “It was hard to see if it was a whale or not at first, even with the binoculars. “It kind of looked like a big log, but you could see the dorsal on it. “It looked like there were a few exits from the blowhole, but it could have been water hitting the log. “It was hard to tell because it was pretty rough, but I met my friend and we got the binoculars out and we thought it definitely looked like a whale. “We then met a woman and she phoned the RSPCA. I think it stranded a lot further up, because at that time the tide was receding and it had moved a bit. “It’s such a shame if it has died.” Article includes photos from licensed drone operator Rising View


Lib Dems call for probe into SNP’s role in Bill Walker saga

September 9 2013

An independent inquiry has been demanded into how convicted wife-beater Bill Walker was allowed to stand as an SNP Holyrood candidate despite the party being alerted to allegations against him. A by-election will take place after Walker, from Alloa, quit as Dunfermline MSP at the weekend citing a “media onslaught” against him. The 71-year-old’s decision to stand down from his £58,000-a-year job came just days after he told The Courier: “I never had any plans to vacate my seat and that’s it.” Speculation is mounting that October 24 could be voting day, given the Dunfermline South council contest to replace Mike Rumney, who died in July, will take place then. Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty said that date provided best value for taxpayers. Opposition politicians have now turned their attention to what the SNP knew about Walker’s past when he made the step up from councillor to parliamentary candidate. Rob Armstrong, Walker’s former brother-in-law, has said he gave a dossier including court documents revealing the politician’s violent past and a newspaper article where he admitted beating his former stepdaughter with a saucepan to staff at Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency office in 2008. Ms Sturgeon has claimed she did not know a complaint was made to her office but insisted it had been fully investigated by party headquarters. That investigation was led by her husband, Peter Murrell. Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said removing Walker “was the priority”, but added an independent-led inquiry was needed into the SNP’s internal processes around the case. Mr Rennie added: “We need to know how this was allowed to happen, why a decision was made not to properly investigate the allegations and who made the decision.” Scottish Labour’s Graeme Pearson said: “As a former police chief, I have investigated a few alibis in my time and I think people need to check Nicola Sturgeon’s. It simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.” Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “There are difficult questions here for the SNP to answer.” An SNP spokesman said changes in internal procedures were made following a review by party president and Angus MEP Ian Hudghton following Walker’s expulsion once the allegations were made public. He added: “In regard to Mr Walker, the investigation conducted by a member of staff at SNP HQ did not find any evidence of any complaint in law or legal proceedings into domestic violence by Mr Walker, and the inquiry was then closed.” In a statement distributed by “crisis PR” Iain Maciver, Walker said: “It has been increasingly difficult for my wife and my staff to deal with the media interest in my case. That same media onslaught has also made it impossible to properly represent my constituents and their interests.” A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament said Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick has received the resignation, effective from Monday.For the latest, see Tuesday's Courier or tryour digital edition.