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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...

Perth & Kinross

Tributes paid to tragic Perth pensioner Billy Clark

July 25 2016

Tributes have been paid to a Perth pensioner, with some describing him as “a gentleman” and others saying he “always had a hello for you.” Although a body found in Perth on Sunday afternoon has to be formally identified, police have contacted the family of 71-year-old Billy Clark following the grim find. The sad news came after an extensive search was carried out for Mr Clark, who had been reported missing from the Muirhall Road area of Perth around 7.30pm on Saturday. Seven fire units arrived at Tay Street, Perth, on Sunday morning and spent nearly six hours searching the river for signs of Mr Clark. Police later confirmed a body had been found in the Perth area and that officers had told Mr Clark’s family of the find. As a result, scores of people have posted messages of condolence to his family on social media. Louise Smith, Mr Clark’s niece, said: “Heartbreaking. RIP Uncle Billy. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.” And Kenny Tunn posted: “RIP Bill. Lovely man. Always had a hello for you.” And similar sentiments were expressed by Jamie Fairlie, who posted: “RIP. Thoughts are with his family – what a gentleman.” Other Perth residents expressed their sadness, with Debbie Smith commenting: “Thoughts are with the family and friends.” And Margaret Latto added: “So sad. Thoughts are with his family.” Jackie Unsworth posted: “So sorry to hear this sad news. My condolences to his family. RIP Billy.” * During the search of the Tay, firefighters identified a piece of metal they had concerns for and the bomb disposal squad were called. However, it turned out to be a simple metal pole.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash driver ‘could have taken precautions’

August 26 2015

The driver of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow city centre killing six people could have taken nine "reasonable precautions" to prevent the tragedy, an inquiry has heard. Harry Clarke, 58, lost consciousness at the wheel of the truck as it veered off the road and hit pedestrians three days before Christmas last year. A fatal accident inquiry into the deaths has previously heard how he failed to disclose his medical history, including a blackout while at the wheel of a stationary bus in 2010, when applying for a job at Glasgow City Council. He refused to answer questions about his medical history when he appeared at the inquiry last week as he faces the prospect of a rare private prosecution. In closing submissions to the inquiry, Advocate Dana Forbes - who is standing in for Dorothy Bain QC - said the family of Jacqueline Morton believe a host of opportunities were missed to prevent the accident. Ms Forbes said: "the overarching question of this inquiry is this: why was Harry Clarke driving a refuse truck for Glasgow City Council on December 22 2014? "The family of Jacqueline Morton believe the answer lies firstly with Harry Clarke himself." Ms Forbes told Sheriff John Beckett, who is overseeing the inquiry, that Mr Clarke could have taken nine reasonable precautions, including following guidance from the DVLA, providing a "full and truthful" account of his collapse on a First Bus to GPs and completing later job applications and licence renewals honestly. A number of reasonable precautions could also have been taken by doctors, Glasgow City Council and First Bus, Ms Forbes said. Earlier, Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC told the sheriff that he had a "unique opportunity to inform the public further" on the issues of the tragedy due to widespread media coverage of the proceedings. In her closing submission, Ms Thomson also highlighted reasonable precautions that could have been taken by Mr Clarke, doctors, the DVLA and Glasgow City Council to avoid the accident. She said: "On the evidence we have heard, despite if the 2010 episode that been reported, it is likely that Mr Clarke would have had his licence returned long before 2014." She said he may not have been employed by Glasgow City Council but "he may have been driving another LGV that day". Ms Thomson recommended that the DVLA should request a public consultation on vehicle licensing and consider rewording guidelines for medical professionals and the public. She also recommended that councils should fit all bin lorries with auto braking systems, make non-driving staff familiar with the controls and brakes of the vehicle, and carry out risk assessments on areas where there is an increased pedestrian presence. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were killed as the lorry driven by Mr Clarke veered out of control during a routine rubbish collection.

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.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry hears of driver blackout ‘disparity’

August 4 2015

The inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry crash which claimed the lives of six people has heard there was a "clear disparity" between two accounts of a brief blackout suffered by the driver in 2010. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Harry Clarke told his GP the episode on April 7 five years ago happened in a work canteen. But a letter from his then employer stated that the loss of consciousness took place on a stationary bus, the inquiry heard. Mr Clarke, 58, was driving the council truck in Glasgow city centre on December 22 last year when he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel and the lorry veered out of control. A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the tragedy has heard he suffered from previous blackouts and dizziness dating back to the 1970s, but failed to notify the local authority when he applied for his post with them. The FAI, now in its 10th day, has been hearing from Baillieston-based Dr Gerald McKaig, 50, who was Mr Clarke's GP in 2010. The inquiry has heard how his medical notes for the driver recorded he had a "five-second loss of consciousness" on April 7 2010. It happened at work in the "hot environment" of the canteen, the notes recorded. They added that there had been no warning signs of the incident, that Mr Clarke had felt "slightly disorientated" during the episode and that paramedics attended. Dr McKaig, who said he had no clear recollection of the appointment, said his view at the time was that the incident was a "simple faint" and did not need to be reported to DVLA. But the inquiry was also told of a letter dated April 8 2010 from Mr Clarke's then employer, FirstBus, to another GP at the same medical practice. It stated that the driver had had "an episode of loss of or impaired consciousness while on a stationary bus" the previous day. The letter sought advice and said: "I understand he has been advised he does not need to inform the DVLA of the incident." Dr McKaig confirmed the information in the letter appeared to be different to the account he had received in relation to the location of the incident. "There is a clear disparity between the descriptions," the GP told the inquiry. Questioned by Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, leading the inquiry, Dr McKaig confirmed the information in his notes would have come from one source, Mr Clarke. Ms Thomson asked whether there was any room for the GP having got his notes wrong. "No, not at all," he replied. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died from multiple injuries after being hit by the truck. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed as the lorry travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing in to the side of the Millennium Hotel. The Crown Office ordered an FAI into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry hears driver’s job references were ’satisfactory’

July 31 2015

The driver of a bin lorry that crashed killing six people had "satisfactory" references when he joined Glasgow City Council but they are no longer held on record, an inquiry has heard. Harry Clarke was driving the council truck in Glasgow city centre on December 22 last year when it went out of control after witnesses reported he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel. A fatal accident inquiry set up to investigate the tragedy has already heard that Mr Clarke had suffered a "blackout" at the wheel of a bus in his previous job in 2010 and had also faced disciplinary proceedings for absences. However, his "employee exit form" completed on leaving First Bus, and shown to the inquiry today, made no mention of absence or disciplinary issues. Mr Clarke did not mention the First Bus incident or any other health issues when applying for a job at Glasgow City Council in December 2010 or in subsequent applications and health checks, the inquiry has heard. Giving evidence today, Geraldine Ham, a human resources manager at the council, said references from previous employers were sought during the job application process but Mr Clarke's are "not held in his file". Questioned by Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, Ms Ham said: "We've not been able to find them." Council emails shown to the inquiry from March 2011 stated that references had been received for a series of job applicants, including Mr Clarke. A council manager dealing with the issue replied to the email, writing: "I can confirm that I am satisfied with all the references." The inquiry has previously heard about a final formal written warning Mr Clarke was given by First Bus over his attendance record, and today Ms Thomson showed the inquiry a disciplinary letter sent to Mr Clarke in 2010 for departing from a bus stop early. However, his "employee exit form" completed on leaving First Bus in December 2010 said he was "suitable for re-engagement" and listed no absence or disciplinary issues. After reviewing Mr Clarke's absence and disciplinary record in his final two years at First Bus, Ms Thomson asked the witness if he would have got the job if the council had known about it. Ms Ham said: "If Mr Clarke withheld information relevant to his application, the offer could have been withdrawn." Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, were struck and killed by the vehicle. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, also died.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry hears of ‘significant shortcomings’ in recruitment procedures

August 3 2015

An inquiry in to a bin lorry crash which claimed the lives of six people has heard claims there were "significant shortcomings" in the council's recruitment procedures at the time the driver got his first job at the authority. Harry Clarke, 58, was driving the council truck in Glasgow city centre on December 22 last year when it went out of control, with witnesses reporting that he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel. A fatal accident inquiry looking in to the tragedy has already heard that Mr Clarke had a history of health issues including fainting, dizziness and stress dating back to the 1970s. And it has been told that he did not disclose his medical history when completing a health questionnaire as part of his job application to be a school bus driver for Glasgow City Council in 2010. Dorothy Bain QC, representing the family of one of the crash victims, questioned Geraldine Ham, a human resources manager at the council, as the inquiry entered its third week. Talking the witness through various employment documents, the lawyer put it to her: "At the stage that Mr Clarke was employed by the council to transport children with special needs, we can see significant shortcomings in the council process for recruitment." Ms Ham said the local authority tried to ensure that the necessary employment processes were in place. Ms Bain said the inquiry has seen that where Mr Clarke "doesn't tell the council the truth, the recruitment process was not adequate in order to prevent his employment". The witness agreed. The QC went on: "For that reason you would agree, I presume, that the recruitment process wasn't adequate?" Ms Ham responded: "There's room for improvement, yes." She also agreed that Mr Clarke would not have been given the job if the council had received full disclosure of his medical history. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died from multiple injuries after being hit by the truck. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed as the lorry travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing in to the side of the Millennium Hotel. The Crown Office ordered a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

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

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