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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

UK & World

Full fiscal powers for Scotland would benefit emerging industries, says Scottish Government

January 11 2011

Video game developers and renewable energy projects would receive “crucial” benefits if Holyrood was given greater financial powers, the Scottish Government has said. The SNP administration claimed renewable energy projects, such as those planned for Tayside and Fife, would be in line for extra support if the Scottish Parliament was able to set its own tax agenda, as would Dundee’s video games industry. External affairs minister Fiona Hyslop cited the two “key and emerging economic sectors” as she made the case for greater fiscal autonomy from Westminster. She insisted Scotland requires greater borrowing powers to fund capital projects like the new Forth crossing and a cheaper tax system similar to that in Finland. Scrutiny of the recent Scotland Bill is to continue at Holyrood today, with the SNP administration set to reject the “limited range” of extra powers on offer in favour of full financial responsibility. Government economists estimate that Scotland’s budget will see a £39 billion cumulative loss over the next 15 years under the present Scotland Bill proposals.’Diluted power’Ms Hyslop said, “As it stands the Scotland Bill is a missed opportunity with no real levers to stimulate growth in the Scottish economy. A diluted power to vary the rate of income tax in Scotland, without any other significant tax powers, could leave Scotland with an unpalatable choice of either cutting income tax along with spending on essential public services or raising income tax, thus making Scotland less competitive.” A government paper published on Monday set out a range of “economic policy levers” it could deploy if it was given greater control over Scotland’s finances. It proposed a more “streamlined” tax system to bring the cost of administering taxes more in line with Norway, which spends half as much as the UK, or Finland, which spends two-thirds less. It also called for a new corporate tax structure to attract businesses, reforms to the welfare system and extra research into Scotland’s key industries such as renewable energy, life sciences and food and drink. Ms Hyslop added, “I hope that both parliaments will take account of these views and call on the UK Government to raise its ambitions for Scotland. Our paper sets out the opportunities for Scotland if it had full control over fiscal matters, either under independence or full financial responsibility within the UK. “It is crucial Scotland gets control of the economic levers to deal with the Westminster spending cuts through the increased growth that only the powers of independence or financial responsibility can deliver. Independence or full financial responsibility would allow the tax system to be structured to support Scotland’s key and emerging economic sectors, such as renewable energy and video games development.”Bill analysisA Westminster committee has been formed to investigate whether the Scotland Bill’s planned shake-up of Holyrood’s financial powers would leave Scotland better or worse off. A specially-convened Holyrood committee has also been established to scrutinise the legislation, with MSPs already having heard from Scottish secretary Michael Moore and finance secretary John Swinney. The committee will today hear from several academics on the potential impact of the changes, including Professor Drew Scott of Edinburgh University and Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett of Washington DC’s George Mason University and St Andrews University. Tayside and Fife both hope to cash in on the renewable energy boom, with Methil and Dundee perfectly placed to help service offshore wind farms in the North Sea. It is hoped that offshore wind could lead to the creation of up to 28,000 jobs in Scotland and bring £7.1 billion to the economy.

Financial services pay out record sum in UK tax

November 27 2017

The UK’s financial services sector paid its highest tax bill on record last year, raising fears that a Brexit banking exodus could ultimately harm Government coffers. The industry shelled out a total of £72.1 billion in tax contributions in the year to March 31, marking a 1% increase from a year earlier and resulting in the highest amount that the sector is recorded to have paid in the 10 years that data has been collected. The report, drafted by consultancy PwC and commissioned by the City of London Corporation, showed that the sector’s contributions currently account for 11% of all Government tax receipts, with employment taxes making up the bulk at £31.4 billion. It raises fears that the loss of bankers and other financial services workers to rival financial hubs such as Frankfurt and Paris after Brexit will ultimately impact public finances. A number of financial services firms expect to shift workers to the EU to secure their European business after Brexit (PA) Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said that the amount of tax paid by the sector over just one year could make up for half of the annual NHS budget or “the lion’s share” of the UK education budget. She said: “With Brexit edging ever closer, it is more important than ever to underline just how important the financial services sector is to the rest of the economy.” She added: “While it’s too early to gauge how the country’s tax-take might suffer if firms chose to move business away from the UK, these findings highlight how vital it is to meet the urgent needs of the sector as part of negotiations.” Alongside employment tax, financial services also paid out more in corporation tax, with the bill rising from £8.4 billion to £11.6 billion, while VAT accounted for 14% of its total contributions, leaving taxes like stamp duty and business rates to make up the remaining sum. Over the past 10 years, the sector paid a total tax bill of £649 billion. The research comes as a raft of international banks, insurers and asset managers prepare to shift portions of their UK operations to the continent ahead of Brexit in hopes of safeguarding against the loss of passporting rights which currently give UK-based financial services cross-border access to the bloc. Heavy-hitting US banks including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are planning to spread staff across a number of European cities including Frankfurt, while Barclays, Legal & General and Bank of America have revealed plans to base EU-focused operations in Dublin after Brexit. HSBC is one of a handful of firms that are turning to Paris, though Luxembourg has gained commitments from the likes of US giant AIG, Northern Trust and insurers RSA and Hiscox. “Since the UK voted to leave the EU, the financial services sector has been crystal clear: We need urgent clarification around a transitional deal, a new mutually beneficial trading relationship with the EU, and continued access to the brightest talent,” Ms McGuinness said. The report also showed that the loss of banking jobs would have a varying effect on regions across the UK, with Scotland and the South East accounting for 13.6% and 12.4% of the national financial services workforce, behind London at 32.7%. The North West makes up around 9.4% while Yorkshire & Humber is the fourth largest sector employer with 7.5%. Overall, the financial services account for 3% of the UK workforce. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By KalyeenaM'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'd83350ef-1e05-4876-a649-96243e443f36'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city,paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Financial services pay out record sum in UK tax'});

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show – now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) – a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.


John Swinney calls for separate Scottish financial watchdog

May 2 2013

Scotland needs its own independent financial watchdog to manage new devolved taxes, the Finance Secretary has said. John Swinney criticised the UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) for what he described as a series of “inexplicable” and “over-optimistic” projections. The Perthshire North MSP told the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee a Scottish version of the OBR would use a different methodology from the UK body. And he attacked the maths of economists in the Scotland Office. Mr Swinney said: “As a consequence of land and buildings transactions tax, landfill tax and the Scottish rate of income tax, we will acquire a set of responsibilities that will be about revenue raising. “It is my view that Scotland will require an independent forecasting body that can provide independent assessment to both the government and the Parliament about what may be generated as a consequence of these taxes.” Finance Committee convener and SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said there has been “some concern amongst committee members about some of the OBR forecasts.” The criticism follows a recent bulletin by the Scottish Government which said the OBR was too pessimistic about the future of North Sea oil and gas. Mr Swinney questioned Scottish Secretary Michael Moore’s suggestion the Scotland Act “will make the Scottish Parliament responsible for raising around a third of the Scottish budget”. He said: “The budget for which I have responsibility is in the order of £28 billion and the total tax gain from these measures will be about £4.7 billion, so I’m not sure who does the maths in the Scotland Office.” A Scotland Office spokesman said: “The Scotland Act is the largest transfer of financial powers from London to Scotland since the creation of the UK and the Scottish Government should not talk them down or ignore their significance. “The Scottish Government’s own figures show the taxes that will be transferred through the Scotland Act, added to the amount already raised through Council tax and business rates, raised nearly £8.8 billion. “That represents around a third of the £28 billion budget the Finance Secretary has responsibility for. “Of course, the actual percentage in the future will depend on the tax rates the Scottish Government chooses to set, which have not yet been made public.” Labour’s Finance Committee member, Michael McMahon, said: “It’s only right to be slightly suspicious that as soon as the OBR put out figures which disagree with the SNP, John Swinney decides to set up his own budget review group.” Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “John Swinney doesn’t like the answers he’s been given on the economy, so he’s cooking the books and looking to appoint his own chef.”

Barclays chairman warns Brexit banking exodus may lead to ‘significant’ tax loss

November 29 2017

Barclays chairman John McFarlane has warned that a no-deal Brexit would hit Government coffers, resulting in a “significant” drop in tax revenues from financial services. The banking boss, who is also chairman of financial services lobby group TheCityUK, said an orderly divorce that delivers a new trade deal would have a minimal effect on the sector. “In a trade agreement scenario where the activities were permitted from the EU into London and vice versa, the impact would be relatively modest,” he told the House of Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee when asked about the possible financial impact of Brexit. “Beyond that, it would be very significant both in terms of economic activity, tax revenue collection and (have) a bigger effect on the infrastructure, the ecosystem … they are very, very significant and there’s a very significant loss of tax revenue associated with that.” John McFarlane is also head of financial services lobby group TheCityUK (Aviva/PA) Losses are expected to weigh heavily on the Treasury as financial services workers tend to pay a higher tax rate due to the average amount of pay in the sector. A recent report drafted by consultancy PwC and commissioned by the City of London Corporation showed that the financial services sector shelled out £72.1 billion in tax contributions in the year to March 31, marking a 1% increase from a year earlier and resulting in the highest amount the sector is recorded to have paid in the 10 years data has been collected. Income taxes made up the bulk at £31.4 billion. A number of banks, including Barclays, are preparing to shift portions of their UK operations to the EU in hopes of safeguarding against the loss of passporting rights which currently give UK-based financial services cross-border access to the bloc. Without a deal that paves the way for reciprocal market access, those contingency plans are likely to be put into action, with bankers and financial services workers shifted to rival financial services hubs including Frankfurt, Paris and Luxembourg. Barclays has confirmed that it plans to use Barclays Bank Ireland as its EU hub to mitigate any potential disruption to business after Brexit, with its German operation likely to be converted to a branch of its Dublin offices. Mr McFarlane said the bank is likely to bolster its EU operations with “hundreds” of staff. “There will be a pull to have more people than we would like to have there and we’re feeling that already – it’s in the hundreds, some of whom will be transferred, some of whom will be new jobs created on the ground in the EU.” If a trade deal is struck, the number of jobs lost in the UK would be “insignificant”, he said. “They’re in, you know, the 10s, whereas in a worst-case scenario they’re a bit more significant. “But they’re not the most important thing. We may have to re-paper hundreds of thousands of contracts into the EU… which I think is a more significant impact. “Because we already have people on the ground it is not as significant as the financial numbers or the capital implications, and in fact it’s relatively modest.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Reporter'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '95bbad04-102e-4aad-b8c8-772dd731a93a'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city,paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Barclays chairman warns Brexit banking exodus may lead to u2018significantu2019 tax loss'});

UK & World

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

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.