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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...

Fife

Fears ‘Scalp Hunter’ had Fife victim prove unfounded

May 29 2013

A Fife woman feared to have fallen victim to a notorious killer dubbed the Scalp Hunter has been traced safe and well. John Patrick Sweeney was convicted in April 2011 of murdering former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead and dumping their body parts in canals. He was jailed for life in 2002 for attempting to murder another ex-girlfriend. An investigation into Sweeney’s possible Fife connection was launched in early February. Murder squad detectives are now satisfied he did not kill the Fife woman, whose identity has never been made public. Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command launched a media campaign seeking her whereabouts. She was believed to have been Sweeney’s girlfriend in the mid-1980s. Police said then she was possibly called Fiona, and shared a house with Sweeney and others in Hornsey Park Road, north London, in 1985. Police said she may have originally been from Fife, possibly Burntisland, and her father or other family member had links to the prison service in Scotland. The Courier has learned the woman has been traced safe and well in England. While it is understood her name is Fiona and she was an acquaintance of Sweeney, it is understood she was from Central Scotland, not Burntisland, and had no family connection with the prison service. A police source said: ”As a result of the local media carrying an appeal by the Metropolitan Police, the woman, who is called Fiona, has been found safe and well. “She lived in London in the 1980s and never returned to Scotland.” In April 2011 Sweeney, from Liverpool and then aged 54, was told he would die in jail after being given a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey for murdering former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead. The possibility of a Fife connection emerged from “reasonably fresh information” which the Met had been working on. At the end of January, Met officers travelled to Fife as part of their Operation Sherston probe. Despite fears Sweeney killed other women, they hoped ‘Fiona from Fife’ was still alive.

Music

Gig preview: Andy Irvine in Newport-On-Tay and Montrose

September 30 2016

Born in London in 1942 to an Irish mother and a Glaswegian father, Andy Irvine started out as a child actor, before he was inspired as a teenager by the songs of his great hero Woody Guthrie to move into singing. Playing in the Irish folk tradition of his youth, he corresponded with Guthrie during the final years of his life, and his songs retain a strong commitment to themes of social justice. Moving to Dublin in the 1960s, mandolin player Irvine helped form the Irish folk-rock group Sweeney’s Men, and went on to co-found the highly successful group Planxty. Later works included the album Parallel Lines with Leith’s Dick Gaughan and the group Patrick Street, while more recent work includes 2013’s Irish-Australian folk record Parachilna with Rens van der Zalm and 2015’s live collaborative project Usher’s Island at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhJIMIcxFb0 The Newport, Newport-On-Tay, October 5; Links Hotel, Montrose, October 6 More info: www.andyirvine.com

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.

Scotland

July date for Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry

June 18 2015

An inquiry into a bin lorry crash which killed six people will begin next month despite a request from the lawyer of one of the bereaved families to delay it. The fatal accident inquiry (FAI), which will start on July 22, will examine the tragedy which happened in Glasgow city centre days before Christmas last year. Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died when the truck lost control in Queen Street on December 22. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed when the vehicle mounted the pavement before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square. At a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court today, Mark Stewart QC, representing relatives of Mr and Mrs Sweeney and Ms McQuade, asked for the inquiry to be adjourned for three months to give him more time to prepare. He told the court that he only became involved on June 10 after legal aid was granted, which he said gives him a very short time to come to terms with a vast amount of paperwork. He said: "There are voluminous papers which themselves contain a vast amount of factual data and complex technical data, and time is required to get through this." At the last court hearing on May 18, representatives for the family told the court of difficulties in the process of accessing full legal aid. Mr Stewart also said the fact the inquiry is due to take place during the school holidays will present problems for some of the family who have children to look after. John Beckett QC, who will hear the FAI, said that while understanding the family's position, he took into account the views of the other families and parties represented, whose view was either neutral or that the inquiry should proceed on July 22, the date which was originally set down for the inquiry in March. He added: "This inquiry proceeds in the public interest and it's generally thought to be in the public interest that any lessons learned from the FAI are learned and disseminated as quickly as possible. "Having considered all of the interests involved and the public interest, I consider that the inquiry should proceed on July 22." Sheriff Beckett has replaced Sheriff Principal Craig Scott, who withdrew from overseeing the inquiry after realising he knew one of the victims. The inquiry will focus on the driver's medical background, his fitness to hold a licence and his employment record and training. It will examine whether anything could have been done to bring the lorry to a controlled stop and explore the route it took, as well as considering technical aspects of the vehicle itself. Scotland's second most senior law officer, Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, who will lead the inquiry, said she intends to start the inquiry with visual evidence such as various DVDs. Paul Reid, representing Harry Clarke, the driver of the lorry, said his client will co-operate fully in the inquiry and answer all questions on the understanding that he will not be prosecuted over the incident. Ms Thomson reiterated the statement issued by the Crown Office in February when it said Mr Clarke would not be prosecuted. She said: "The Crown made a public statement on February 25 that the driver will not be prosecuted in respect of this tragic incident. "Despite its catastrophic consequences, there is no evidence to suggest that the driver's conduct at the time amounted to a breach of the criminal law." Ms Thomson said she expects the FAI to take about three weeks; however, other lawyers gave different estimates, saying it could last five or six weeks. As well as the families, other parties represented at the inquiry include the DVLA, Glasgow City Council, the two passengers in the bin lorry and various doctors.

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: Three victims from the same family

December 23 2014

Three of the six victims killed when a bin lorry careered out of control through a city centre were an elderly couple and their granddaughter. Jack Sweeney, his wife Lorraine, and granddaughter Erin McQuade, understood to be in her teens, died on Monday after the council vehicle drove through a street full of shoppers in Glasgow. Miss McQuade worked at the luxury Cameron House Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond. The hotel said in a statement: "We are saddened to hear we have lost one of our brightest and dedicated members of housekeeping staff, Erin McQuade. "We want to offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of Erin and to all those who have been affected by the tragic events at George Square yesterday." Mr Sweeney, from Dumbarton, was a former president of Bramalea Celtic supporters club in Canada. A statement posted on the Bramalea CeItic supporters club Facebook page said: "It is with great shock and sadness we share with you our friend and past president Jack Sweeney, his wife Lorraine and granddaughter Erin were victims of today's tragedy in Glasgow. "Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of the Sweeney family." Relative John Sweeney described himself as "feeling heartbroken" on Facebook. He wrote: "No words can describe the pain. R.I.P. Jack, Lorraine and Erin. Thoughts and prayers go out to the other families that lost loved ones as well." Three other females were also killed and 10 people were injured, six of whom remain in hospitals around the city. A special prayer service has been held for the victims at the nearby St George's Tron Parish Church. The Rev Stuart Smith, moderator of Glasgow Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, said the circumstances of the crash were "more sudden and shocking than we could have imagined possible if it wasn't for the evidence right here in front of us". The service was attended by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson. Ahead of the service Ms Sturgeon said that Glasgow was waking with a "broken heart" but praised the city's resilience, adding: "This city will pull together to support those who have been affected, not just in the days ahead but in the weeks and months to come." It is thought the driver might have fallen ill at the wheel as he travelled up Queen Street and his vehicle struck a pedestrian outside the Gallery of Modern Art. The truck continued, hitting several other people and coming to a halt only when it crashed into the side of Millennium Hotel in George Square. A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said there were two other crew members on the lorry at the time of the crash, but the condition of the two men was not known. A large cordon remains in place at the square and hundreds of floral tributes have been placed at the scene. A fleet of private ambulances carrying the dead left the area earlier this morning. The Christmas lights have been switched off in George Square and flags on public buildings in the city are flying at half-mast. Police have not yet formally named any of the victims.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry inquiry may last five weeks

May 18 2015

An inquiry into a bin lorry crash which killed six people could last up to five weeks, a court has heard. The tragedy happened when a Glasgow City Council truck collided with pedestrians in the city centre days before Christmas last year. A fatal accident inquiry will look at the driver's medical background and technical aspects relating to the lorry. Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, who will lead the inquiry, told a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court that it is likely to last three weeks. Peter Gray, the solicitor acting for the council, said that could be optimistic and four is more realistic, but he "wouldn't be surprised" if it lasts five weeks. Sheriff Principal Craig Scott today agreed to a further preliminary hearing before the inquiry begins on July 22. Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, died when the truck lost control on Queen Street on December 22. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed when it mounted the pavement before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square. Relatives of those who died will be represented at the inquiry, as will thecouncil, the DVLA and the bin lorry driver. Today’s hearing was also attended by a lawyer for the driver’s two co-workers, who were on the truck at the time of the accident, and a representative for a GP who saw the driver in 2010. Ms Thomson said a technical report had been completed ahead of the inquiry but the Crown is still awaiting a report relating to the “human factors” and information on the internal conversion of the lorry cab. Lawyers for Ms Morton’s family said they had further records and statements to assess following the granting of legal aid two weeks ago. Representatives for relatives of Ms Ewing, Mr and Mrs Sweeney and Ms McQuade also told the court of difficulties in the process of accessing full legal aid. A further preliminary hearing was set for June 18 at Glasgow Sheriff Court. The inquiry will focus on the driver’s medical background, his fitness to hold a licence and his employment record and training. It will examine whether anything could have been done to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop and explore the route taken by the truck.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash victim’s daughter criticises council

December 21 2015

The daughter of one of the Glasgow bin lorry crash victims has said she does not think she will ever return to the scene of the tragedy as the first anniversary of her mother's death approaches. Lucy Ewing, 22, who was with her mother Gillian when she was struck by the bin lorry in George Square on December 22 last year, has also questioned the sensitivity of Glasgow City Council's marketing of its Christmas festivities. She told the Daily Record newspaper: "I watched on the TV the 'Glasgow Loves Christmas' advert with its little jingle and I felt it was a little bit distasteful. "I notice all the Christmas fairs and everything are right on George Square, just as normal. "I'm not sure where the families were meant to go to lay a tribute on the anniversary, if that's something they wanted to do. "George Square is where it happened and it's the anniversary - but if you go there, there will be children having fun on the Ferris wheel and the ice skating and all that. It will all be going on yards from where it happened." She told the newspaper she does not think she can ever return to George Square. Ms Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, was among six people who died when bin lorry driver Harry Clarke lost consciousness behind the wheel and the vehicle careered out of control. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton; Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, also lost their lives in the crash. A memorial service is to be held at Glasgow Cathedral on Tuesday to remember them.

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

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