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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...

Readers' letters

Dundee must be the capital of “litterland”

October 3 2013

Sir, I was interested to read John Dorward’s letter in Monday’s Courier. He touches on the random casting of empty cans round the countryside but he hits a sore spot. If Scotland is the litterland of Europe then Dundee can claim to be its capital. Visitors from England are appalled at the mass dumping of litter and the volume of used chewing-gum on all our pavements and streets. We employ an army of excellent people to sweep them daily because of this. In my area they do a wonderful job but it is not an easy task. Our schools employ people after the lunch break to sweep the streets because they are so ashamed of the huge accumulation of detritus that forms an ugly carpet all around their institutions. The council have made a really good job of the city High Street, apart from the wondrous display of “to let” signs, that is; but yet again at all times of the day the cleaners struggle to clear the mess. It seems to be a generation game; we oldies look askance as a frightening proportion of the under-forties continue to carelessly blight our would-be city of culture. Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. SNP should commit to an “air hub” Sir, After the SNP put up a pitiful fight to save RAF Leuchars, our local SNP MSP has once again jumped on the bandwagon regarding the conversion of RAF Leuchars into a commercial airfield, a flight of fancy that has been mooted for more than 20 years. It would appear, therefore, that Rod Campbell has given up the fight for an independent Scotland, as he sees the future of the RAF Leuchars airfield resting with the Westminster Government, citing “ever changing circumstances” at the MoD. Surely the government of an independent Scotland could do whatever it likes with RAF Leuchars and to this end, I would like to see the SNP make a commitment to carry out a feasibility study into transforming RAF Leuchars into a new commercial “air hub”, providing jobs for those who will be left unemployed by the MoD’s current inept decision and creating further new jobs for those in the local area. No need to worry about where to put the army destined for RAF Leuchars Kinloss is currently underused, with only 720 troops occupying a large base that can never be returned for civilian redevelopment (radiation issues). Only the naive can surely believe that there will be a single Typhoon aircraft at Lossiemouth should Scotland decide to go it alone. So let’s see the SNP put its money where its mouth is, as none of us actually knows what the SNP’s defence plans are for an independent Scotland. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Cuts becoming out of control? Sir, I was very disappointed to learn that with the exception of Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, all Fife police stations will cease to be manned 24 hours, while others will be closed completely to the public. It is stated that the use of public counters has fallen dramatically and people are using other methods of communication, but when one has been the victim of street crime and has had their wallet and mobile communications stolen, what do they do? There are very few public telephone kiosks operating nowadays and no one will open their door to a stranger. The cost-cutting exercises are running out of control and, as always, the cuts are being made at the wrong end of the ladder and affecting the vulnerable. John McDonald. 14 Rosebery Court, Kirkcaldy. Focus on cost is misleading Sir, Your article about the use of independent fostering providers was misleading (Council’s action plan to recruit foster carers, October 1). When a child comes into care, it’s the local authority’s duty to find the best home for that child, for however long they need it. Often this will be with one of their own foster carers, but where they do not have anyone who can meet the individual needs of a child, then it is right that they look elsewhere. Independent fostering providers often provide specialist foster carers, and the reality is that they often find homes for children who may otherwise be in residential care, which would cost far more than foster care. Moreover, the costs quoted in the article do not compare like with like; the cost for an independent agency also includes spending on a social worker and other support for their foster carers, while the local authority figure only covers the money actually paid to a foster carer. It is right that all local authorities actively recruit to find the foster carers that they need, but every authority across Scotland and indeed the UK will also need the services of independent providers. Developing good relationships and working together in the interests of the child is what is needed, not a disproportionate and misleading focus on cost. Decisions about where a child lives should not be financial, but rather about the best place for them to grow up and receive the care and support that they need. Sara Lurie, Director. The Fostering Network Scotland.

Other sports

Carl Froch and George Groves rematch on the cards

November 25 2013

Carl Froch and George Groves counted their bruises and considered a rematch after one of the most brutal and compelling all-British boxing matches in recent years ended in controversy in Manchester on Saturday night. The puffed-up faces of both men bore testament to the war they had just waged, with Froch climbing up from a shock first-round knockdown to stop Groves on his feet in round nine and retain his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles. Referee Howard Foster’s intervention with Groves ahead on all three of the judges’ cards brought howls of protest from the challenger’s camp and led to inevitable talk about the pair doing it all again in the new year. Promoter Eddie Hearn appeared to pave the way for a second meeting, admitting: “Fights are made through the demand of the broadcaster and the fans and I can’t see demand for any fight other than a rematch.” Groves had entered the fight unbeaten but still performed way above expectations, taking the fight to Froch just as he said he would during an acrimonious pre-fight build-up, and dumping him on the canvas in the opening moments from a right hand. It was only the second time Froch had hit the deck in his career and drew gasps from the resolutely pro-Froch capacity crowd. Groves continued to take the fight to Froch, peppering him with stiff left jabs and getting the better of an uproarious sixth, before showing signs of flagging which brought Foster’s intervention. Froch was getting the better of a series of increasingly fractious exchanges and when a pair of right hands left Groves sagging and seemingly helpless, Foster jumped in having deemed, as is his right, that a standing count was not necessary. His decision sparked uproar and Foster was smuggled from the ring by six security guards while Groves insisted: “It was an unjust stoppage. His shots weren’t landing cleanly and I was nowhere near as hurt as he was in some of the rounds. “I’d love a rematch and I’d take it tomorrow.” Froch backed Foster’s call, insisting Groves could have been hurt had the action continued. He said: “In my opinion the referee stepped in to save George Groves’ career.”

Angus & The Mearns

‘Very proud’ Angus families underline importance of fostering

May 28 2016

Angus foster carers have called on families across the county to get behind a campaign to help local children. As the UK-wide Foster Care Fortnight comes to an end on Sunday, Angus Council has emphasised the support available for those who want to make the step into caring for some of the county’s 250 looked-after children. Every 20 minutes across the UK a child comes in to care in need of a foster family. This equates to 1,008 children during Foster Care Fortnight. Rod and Sue Ellis have been permanent foster carers for around 20 years in Scotland and “can’t remember” how many children they have cared for. Debbie said: “The child or young person lives with you until they are old enough to live independently and move into their own accommodation. “We have had children move on to university – to see them go on and achieve their dreams is one of the most rewarding aspects of fostering. “If you are thinking of becoming a foster carer, you will get a lot of support from the family placement team, and opportunities to train to help you gain the knowledge you need to understand the needs of the children placed with you.” Debbie and Mark Chalmers have been fostering since 2009. Debbie said: “Our own children were aged nine and four at the time and although it was always a career we both wanted, we waited until it was the right time to fit in with our own children's lives. “My parents were foster carers in the late 70s, early 80s, looking after mostly babies going through for adoption, but also other children of many age groups. “This gave me the experience of being part of a fostering household and an awareness of the expectations and routines involved. “We have looked after many children of different ages and enjoy all the rewards and challenges they bring with them. “Of course we couldn't do this job without the great support we receive from our family who offer a listening ear, emotional support and babysitting to allow us to attend meetings, courses or even a wee night out. “Both Mark and I are very proud watching how our own children have grown into outstanding young adults who show respect, empathy and are non-judgemental." A council spokeswoman said: “If you have been thinking about fostering, or feel you could provide a home for a child in need, please get in contact now and find out how you can help. “The excellent support continues once you become a foster carer and we offer all foster carers a competitive financial package.” Visit www.angus.gov.uk/fostering or call 01241 435078 to find out more, or email fosteringandadoption@angus.gov.uk.

Angus & The Mearns

Landlord jailed for fire safety breaches at flat where Angus jockey Jan Wilson died

May 18 2013

The landlord of flats where Angus jockey Jan Wilson died has been jailed for 12 months for fire safety breaches. A judge criticised Alan Foster over his “complete disregard” for the safety of residents, including teenager Jan and Irish apprentice Jamie Kyne who were victims of an arson attack in September 2009. Reacting to Friday’s sentencing, Jan’s mother, Margaret, said her daughter’s life had been lost by the accused’s lack of “basic housekeeping” at the North Yorkshire block. Foster, 65, of Buckrose Court, Malton, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court by Judge Geoffrey Marson QC for offences which also continued at his other premises after the fatal fire. He said it was impossible to say what would have been the outcome for the two jockeys had proper fire precautions been taken. “It is clear, however, that their deaths would have been significantly less likely but for these breaches,” added the judge. Miss Wilson, 19, of Greenhead Farm, Rescobie, near Forfar, and 18-year-old Mr Kyne were trapped in a second-floor flat when former caretaker Peter Brown started a blaze in rubbish stored beneath a stairwell after being refused entry to a party in another flat. Brown was later convicted and jailed for the double manslaughter but the judge said Foster’s culpability was high. Furniture and tins of paint were among rubbish a resident had previously complained of. Inspections revealed a lack of fire safety equipment or signs. “These were simple matters which should easily have been identified and obviated as part of a routine risk assessment and they could have been rectified without a good deal of expenditure,” the judge said. He told Foster: “It is perfectly clear to me that despite all that happened in 2009 and despite being interviewed in 2010, you were unwilling to ensure the safety of residents. “This was in part, no doubt, because you were unwilling to bear the relatively modest expense.” Philip Standfast, for Foster, said he had never intended to become a landlord and planned to sell all the flats, but the property crash in 2008 meant that did not happen. He found himself having to rent out the properties and realised he should have sought further advice about any changes that might involve. He was not an absentee landlord since he was living in an adjacent property. He was financially ruined, now more than £1 million in debt on the properties and on paper “bankrupt.” After the case, Mrs Wilson said: “It was basic housekeeping, it doesn’t take much just to tidy up a stairwell. Two lives are lost and we have to live with that, nothing can bring them back.” Jamie Kyne’s mother Madeline Cosgrove-Kyne said they were happy with the sentence.


Sponsored: How to help a young person by fostering

May 4 2018

Sadly, many children are unable to live with their families. For them, fostering provides a safe and stable home; helping them feel valued, ensuring their needs are met and giving them the best chance to develop. Depending on the circumstances, a child may require either short-term support, or a long-term home. Care Visions Fostering Scotland is one of the nation’s leading independent foster care networks. It is a not-for-profit organisation, founded to provide vulnerable children with safety, warmth and specialist care. Since being registered by the Care Commission in 2006, Care Visions Fostering has been supporting young people in need to improve their daily lives, development and opportunities after care. Care Visions’ mission is to create positive environments, in which foster carers can help children reclaim their lives and build a brighter future. “Seeing a child grow up is what it’s all about.” Heather and Paul Houston, Fostering with Care Visions since March 2015 “Do not hesitate to be a foster carer, my only regret is not doing it sooner.” Jillian Hawick, Fostering with Care Visions since July 2009 Want to find out more? Come along to our drop-in information session for a no obligation chat and find out if fostering is right for you. Thursday 10th May, 12.30-1.30pm, Charleston Community Centre, Dundee and Saffron Room, Craigowan Road, Dundee DD2 4NL. Are you over 25? Do you have a spare room? Are you able to give a child the support they need? We are looking for people across Scotland who can offer a stable home environment to children who need care and support. You don’t need formal qualifications as Care Visions provide training and financial support. fostering.enquiries@carevisionsfostering.co.uk


800 foster families urgently required across Scotland

January 7 2016

Eight hundred more foster families are urgently needed across Scotland this year, according to new figures. The Fostering Network said there is a particular requirement to provide homes for teenagers, siblings, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The charity is concerned that without enough families in Scotland, children could be placed many miles from their school, friends and family, and brothers and sisters could be split up. This could then risk the child's placement breaking down, the organisation warned. Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network in Scotland, said: "For some children they're not able to be looked after by their mum or dad, no matter how much they might love them. Due to often sad and tragic circumstances, these children require the love and care of a foster family. "We want Scotland to be the very best place for all children to grow up, and that means that for any child who is not able to live with their own birth family they still have the opportunity to experience normal family life. All children should feel safe, cared for, loved, understood and believed in. Foster carers give children this opportunity. "The work of foster families contributes not only to society now, but in the future as young people who live with foster carers grow up with a more positive future ahead. "By recruiting more foster carers we can provide a wider pool of potential foster families so that every time a child needs a foster family, they have the best chance of finding the foster family who best meets their individual needs." She said all prospective foster carers receive training as part of their initial assessment, with a range of ongoing support and training available following an approval. The Fostering Network calculates recruitment targets every year, taking into account a number of factors including the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving and the rise in the number of children in care. It said 5,533 children live with more than 4,450 foster families across Scotland each day. The charity also revealed there is need for 7,600 foster families in England, 500 in Wales and 170 in Northern Ireland. The figures come after it released a survey last year showing two in five of fostered teenagers across the UK are already living with their third foster family since coming into care, and one in 20 are living with their tenth family in foster care.


Fife Council ‘spectacularly failed’ by refusing to rip up new mum’s Victoria Hospital parking fine

August 28 2014

Fife Council has “spectacularly failed” after failing to rip up a parking ticket issued to a woman giving birth, a local councillor has claimed. Donna Foster gave birth just 34 minutes after her partner, Ian Henderson, left their car in a disabled parking space at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. The couple had been unable to find a standard space for their vehicle and had to abandon their car in the specially-designated space despite not having the necessary blue badge. As Donna gave birth to baby Tyler Levi in the hospital’s maternity unit, a traffic warden ticketed the couple’s car. Although she appealed the decision when she arrived home with her newborn, her plea was thrown out by Fife Council a move Glenrothes councillor Ross Vettraino says is completely out of order. Stunned at the lack of empathy shown by council officers, he said: “The parking attendant did his job. He issued a penalty charge notice, which was the correct thing to do, as there was a car parked in a disabled space without a blue badge being displayed. “However, the council officer who summarily dismissed Ms Foster’s appeal without even checking to see of she was telling the truth didn’t do his job, as he represents a council that wants to put people first but spectacularly failed to do so. “There is also a problem with the legislation, which lists six grounds on which a penalty charge notice can be appealed, none of which has any regard to a situation such as that in which Ms Foster’s partner found himself, in which human life or wellbeing was at stake. “In such circumstances, I expect the council to exercise its discretion and put people first.” To stop the situation from developing further, Donna’s mother paid the £30 fine on her behalf. However, following The Courier’s intervention, the local authority has now said it is willing to listen to Ms Foster’s appeal. Service manager Angus Carmichael said “We understand that Ms Foster has paid her fine. “However, we appreciate that this was an exceptional set of circumstances and we would ask Ms Foster to consider submitting a formal appeal.”


MSP claims banning same-sex marriage opponents from fostering would be an ‘injustice’

December 20 2013

It would be an “injustice” if foster carers were barred from looking after children because they oppose same-sex marriage, an MSP has claimed. However, the SNP’s Richard Lyle’s proposals to introduce a clause stating that a potential adoptive parent or foster carer’s views on marriage cannot be taken into account during the fostering or adoption process were thrown out by a Holyrood committee. The Equal Opportunities Committee voted against changes to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill which were aimed at enhancing protections for religious bodies and celebrants, potential foster carers and adoptive parents, and public authority workers who do not support same-sex marriage. Mr Lyle, who adopted his daughter 31 years ago after a lengthy process, said: “Should same-sex marriage become law, there is a very real danger that potential foster carers and adopters may be wrongly deemed homophobic, because of their opposition to same-sex marriage and, therefore, may not be [deemed] suited to the role. “I trust that all members of the committee would agree that it would be a terrible injustice for everyone concerned if otherwise suitable adopters or foster carers were turned down because of their views on marriage.” His proposal was rejected by the committee during its consideration of stage two amendments. Committee member Marco Biagi, also an SNP MSP, said he would be concerned if a child who had been cared for by a same-sex couple was then moved into a family where there was an objection to the previous arrangements. “That would be a material consideration,” he said. Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “It is already the case that views on same-sex marriage cannot disqualify anyone from becoming a foster carer or an adoptive parent.” He said that “views on same-sex marriage are likely to be irrelevant” in the process. Amendments from SNP MSP John Mason aimed at “bolstering protection for those with religious views who do not wish to participate in same-sex marriage” and “protecting expression of belief in marriage between persons of different sex” were also voted down.

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