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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Countdown on to new era for Forfar’s Chapelpark

September 29 2017

Tenants who will soon call Forfar’s former Chapelpark school home have been given the chance to see the project’s progress toward completion. Angus Council’s £5.6 million Academy Court project is transforming the B-listed building — the town's old Academy before becoming Chapelpark primary — into 29 affordable homes for social rent, comprising 18 one-bedroom flats, six two-bedroom flats, one three-bedroomed flat and four five-bedroomed townhouses. At a drop-in event at the town’s Reid Hall, the authority’s housing team gave the soon-to-move-in tenants an opportunity to see plans and drawings, as well as samples of bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings which will grace their new homes. Architects, technical experts and community housing and waste management teams were also present. They were joined by the council’s communities convener and vice-convener, councillors Craig Fotheringham and Lois Speed, as well as local elected members and representatives from Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Tayside Contracts, local community groups and other agencies who are involved in the development. Cllr Fotheringham said: “We have kept our new tenants up to date throughout this project so far, and this was another great opportunity for us to meet with them and offer an exciting insight into the homes they will shortly move into. “We had the right people here to ensure that a range of advice was available for our tenants and any questions they had were answered. “This will help to make their move simple and straightforward. “This is a significant housing development for Forfar and Angus, one which will breathe new life into this landmark building. “Academy Court will provide modern, affordable and energy efficient accommodation for a new generation of our residents. Houses that people can be proud to call home.” Chapelpark's early role as the town's first Academy was highlighted in a Meffan exhibition earlier this year to mark the opening of Forfar's new community campus. Photographs and memorabilia from the old building was on display alongside items charting the history of its replacement, officially opened by The Queen Mother in 1965, but now a memory after being bulldozed to make way for the final phase of the campus project.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states.The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session.Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added.The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”.He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest.“If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right.“But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest.“It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.”Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

Angus & The Mearns

Meffan exhibition tells the story of Angus and the Great War

September 10 2014

The outbreak of the First World War and its effect in Angus is being marked in a new exhibition in Forfar. The exhibition uses iconic objects, artworks, poetry and slideshows to tell the history of life in the trenches, The Black Watch and of local recipients of the Victoria Cross. Visitors to the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery can also view a selection of war drawings by Sir Muirhead Bone, who was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in 1916. Photos by Kim Cessford.

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

Angus & The Mearns

Three Schools for Three Centuries charts Forfar Academy history

April 3 2017

Forfar's past, present and future education is being marked by a special exhibition celebrating the life of the town’s Academy in a trio of buildings spanning three centuries. Just weeks after the opening of the latest state-of-the-art school within Forfar’s £39 million community campus, the town’s Meffan museum and gallery has unveiled a display charting the journey from the David Logan-designed 1816 Academy Street building to the present day. Three Schools for Three Centuries will run until July and also serves as a bicentenary celebration of the Forfar secondary, the 2016 milestone coming just a year after Montrose Academy’s Under the Dome anniversary of a building which also came from the pen of renowned architect Logan. Detailed information panels and a host of memorabilia feature in the exhibition, reflecting changes in education as much as the shifting physical environment for generations of youngsters. The first Academy, which became Chapelpark primary school, is currently undergoing a multi-million pound affordable housing transformation. Its successor building in Taylor Street was opened by The Queen Mother in 1965 and now lies empty in preparation for the bulldozers moving in following its replacement with the new Academy in the community campus. Guests at the opening evening of the exhibition included former and current staff and pupils, and Forfar Academy head teacher Melvyn Lynch paid tribute to everyone involved in researching and putting together the extensive display, saying it had been a “monumental achievement “ unearthing the treasure trove of material and memories. “It has been a great privilege to be head teacher of Forfar Academy and I am in awe of being in the presence of so many people who have been pupils, parents and teachers at the school,” said Mr Lynch. “To be able to share memories stretching back 80 years and beyond is a living, vibrant and wonderful thing,” he added. The Meffan company included George Peters, whose ties to the Academy stretched from his days as a pupil at the school to retiring from the post of assistant rector in 1989. Mr Peters was joined by a group of pupils from his first form class of 1953, the group having held a host of annual reunions with their teacher since their first more than 30 years ago. As a senior pupil at the Academy he recalled being paid seventeen and a half pence a night to carry out fire watch duty on the original building during the war. He started as a teacher at the school on April 1 1953 and apart from a short spell in Kirriemuir in the early 1960s spent his career at Forfar Academy, rising to be principal teacher of geography before becoming assistant rector in 1979. “I’m glad to have been able to help out with the exhibition and I think they have done a great job putting it together,” he said. “There is so much to see and I’m going to come in and have a long look round in the weeks to come.” Successful scholars and the jannie who ruled the roost Alongside the photographs and officials, educators and Royal guest The Queen Mother on her visit to open the second Academy in 1965, a part of the exhibition is devoted to one figure whose name is part of the fabric of the school story. James ‘Jimmy’ Crofts was the janitor at the old Academy from the mid-1920s to 1959 and acquired legendary status-it was said he had the ability to strike fear into teachers and was the man responsible for running the school, not the rector. On his retiral in 1959, jannie Jimmy was awarded the British Empire Medal for in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List services to education, with the gong on display in the Meffan exhibition. Exhibition panels depicting the achievements of famous Forfar Academy pupils also reveal at the town can claim a small part in the early education of Peter Pan creator, Sir J M Barrie. The Kirriemuir-born playwright and author spent at year at Forfar Academy at the age of 10 and another of the school’s famous students, socialist author, journalist and academic Lord Peter Ritchie Calder later used a desk with the initials J M B carved into it which he believed were those of the famous playwright.

Angus & The Mearns

Forfar Academy champions lifesaving campaign with overwhelming response to Anthony Nolan plea

April 27 2017

Forfar Academy pupils have been hailed for their remarkable response to a lifesaving partnership project by the firefighter whose own blood cancer diagnosis sparked the vital programme. In the latest stage of a drive which it is hoped will eventually involve secondaries across the whole of Tayside, the Angus school staged a registration event for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Anthony Nolan charity initiative, which has already delivered potentially lifesaving matches for those in need of a stem cell transplant. The scheme was launched in 2009, a year after Ally Boyle, a fire service area commander from Hamilton, was diagnosed with blood cancer. The condition forced his retiral from the service four years ago, but since then he has been a driving force behind the initiative to educate young people about the need for stem cell donors and develop positive citizenship through the partnership involving SFRS colleagues and the charity. The programme has added thousands of people aged 16 to 30 to the Anthony Nolan register of potential stem cell donors, including around 80 names from the Forfar Academy session – a statistic several times the normal 25% 'conversion' rate the scheme would expect from such events. Senior Academy pupils trained as partnership champions encouraged their peers to sign up for the registration session and they joined local firefighters in administering the event. Kingsway East SFRS station manager Fraser Scott, the tactical lead in the Tayside programme, which already involves Monifieth High and will hopefully soon expand to Perth, said a ‘conversion’ rate of 80 from around 100 expressions of interest in the run up to the event was well in excess of what would normally be expected. “We come out to the schools, give presentations and recruit the champions, and then get them to talk to their peers in the hope that they will be willing to join the register. Young people who register give a simple and quick saliva sample, expanding the database the charity can search when it is searching for a genetic match for a patient requiring a stem cell transplant. Mr Scott added: “We hope to become embedded in the culture of the school, returning on an annual basis with a new group of champions in the senior year.” Mr Boyle said: “When I was diagnosed and learned about Anthony Nolan I realised the fire service and the charity existed for exactly the same reason – to save lives – and thought there was something very positive that we could do together. “It also gives us a chance to develop a really positive relationship with young people and promote active citizenship, through the schools and the young champions who play such an important part in this.”

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