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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...


Children leave their mark on Dunfermline church’s roof

October 27 2010

More than 60 youngsters will become part of a Dunfermline church's history having signed their names on some of its slates. The slates are being used as part of a £327,000 repair scheme being undertaken at the Gillespie Memorial Church. The youngsters, from Wellwood Primary School and Gillespie Youth Church, have been keeping an eye on the repairs to the town centre building. Their involvement will be recorded for posterity on the nave roof. The listed church is half way through a project that includes roof repairs, new lead gutters and flashings, new cast iron gutters and downpipes, and stone repairs and re-pointing. Its roof is being repaired with second-hand Scottish slates to match the existing materials. The congregation moved to Queen Anne High School in the town for some services while additional structural works are carried out, and the project is supported by a £160,000 grant from the Dunfermline Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS). David MacGregor, chairman of the church's trustees, said, "We are fund-raising to match the money granted by CARS. "One of the ways we are doing this is by the children and young people sponsoring a slate for the church roof." "The congregation are very excited by the progress so far and are looking forward to returning to Gillespie after our relocated Sunday mornings to Queen Anne High School."


People being helped just ‘tip of the iceberg’

August 21 2017

The number of people coming forward for aid is just the tip of the iceberg, according to a Dunfermline volunteer. Pauline Hoey is in contact with families struggling to cope through the work of Gillespie Memorial Church’s school holiday 3F – Food For Families - project. This provides food to families where youngsters can normally rely on a nourishing – and free – school meal. Having to find extra money during the break can put some families already finding in difficulty under intolerable strain and parents often go without food to ensure their children don’t go hungry. In its first year, 2015, around 600 meal packs were provided. This summer break alone the equivalent of 2,335 were handed out. It is not just food, many have no money for life's basics, including a mother who feared her child might be taken into care. “He had a skin condition and she was able to bathe him once a day, but he needed bathing twice a day and, with no money to heat the water, she had to go to a friend’s.” Pauline talked of the mixture of pride and shame that holds people back from seeking help. “Some people are earning far less than they should. And the benefits system is broken. “Then there are issues like the mother who has been told she’s been overpaid tax credits – which she says she hasn’t – and has had £400 taken off her in four weeks. And on top of that it’s school holidays.” Zero hours contracts too can help some, but Pauline recounts a story of a couple promised many hours of work each. “But on the second day they were told they were not needed again that week, and they had already paid a whole week’s childcare.” Pauline, who in the past has herself struggled, said it was “shameful” people are not earning enough. “It is dreadful, they are working hard and are still dependent on foodbanks. “Foodbanks are doing a fantastic job but it is a job they shouldn’t have to do.” While located in the centre of Dunfermline, she said the project was now seeing people from the villages around west Fife. “At the end of the week you feel blessed you’ve been able to help people but it makes you think how many more people you’ve not reached. It is the tip of the iceberg.” Demand also soars at Kirkcaldy foodbank Demand has soared at Kirkcaldy Foodbank, with volunteers having to spend thousands to top up donations. Rev Marc Prowe, minister at Auchtertool linked with Kirkcaldy Linktown Church, helped set up the independent, community initiative at Dysart St Clair Church in 2013. He said the impact of food poverty was enormous and represented a “deep moral and structural failure” of representative democracy. Kirkcaldy Foodbank relies on 90 volunteers, working at least 1,700 hours per month, to keep up with demand. They spend around £3,000 on food every month of money secured though bank standing order public contributions to top up donations of foods collected at supermarkets and churches. Demand has soared over two years, from 4,685 people in 2014-15 to 9,849 people in 2016-17. Nearly 280 children and 556 adults are fed every month. Mr Prowe said: “For people in crisis, a foodbank is the last option. “The impact of this poverty is enormous and is a deep moral and structural failure of representative democracy. This issue is larger than the capacity of any singular charity or individual agency.” He added Church of Scotland members in Kirkcaldy were motivated by their faith to help people. Mr Prowe said many foodbank clients were on zero hour contacts and in unstable employment contracts, uncertain about their income from month to month. “We should not need foodbanks in one of the wealthiest nations of the world,” he added. “There are a number of factors stacked against people, the economic downturn and the way the benefits are organised.” “It is really squeezing people hard.” He took a campaign to the Scottish Parliament to get MSPs to pledge action to tackle the “enormous scandal” of food poverty and support sustainable anti-food poverty projects in their constituency. East Neuk tackling period poverty MSP Monica Lennon’s bid to end the misery of period poverty has hit the headlines. But around Fife many charitable organisations and foodbanks have been distributing the most personal of hygiene products for many years. One such place is East Neuk Foodbank, which started in 2013. The group doesn’t use a referral system and employs a drop in and café to ensure a friendly atmosphere. “So you really cannot tell if they are clients or volunteers,” he said. Richard also helps with PC access, vital for form filling and job hunts, and courses are run. That can all help forge closer bonds, making people feel more at ease about asking for more personal items. “Apart from food if they need sanitary or toiletry products we have that stuff here as well. “There is nothing that is missed. “It is good the MSP is talking about it, you need to take about it to break down the barriers,” he said. Working in the heart of a rural area brings challenges, for example public transport costs and isolation among their largest single user group, the over 45s. He fears it is the older people in the community who aren’t being reached. “They may be too proud to come out.” The need, he added, “is a terrible shame”. “It is really no different from how it used to be before the welfare state, when the parish picked up the pieces and helped what was then called the poor. “In some ways it is almost returning to a pre-welfare state position.”

Readers' letters

March 14: False economy in dash for ‘green’ transport

March 14 2011

'Green' transport, sectarianism, bankers' bonuses, and public toilets are all on the agenda at the start of the Courier letters week. False economy in dash for 'green' transport Sir,-A report to go before a Dundee City Council committee tonight is recommending the purchase of four electric cars to replace ageing diesel vans. Committee convener, Councillor Jimmy Black, claims the running and maintenance costs will be low. The overall expense, however, will not prove to be sound housekeeping. The cost of the cars to the taxpayer will total £96,853, whether from local or national funds. There is then the cost of replacing the batteries when they wear out. That is, according to all reports, extremely high. The committee claims a saving of £12,000 a year over the cost of running the old diesel vans. I do not see it. The initial cost alone of each car is £24,213. An equivalent conventional car would cost nothing like that. The difference in cost has to be recouped before councillors can speak about savings, then they have to budget for replacement batteries. I should dearly love to go green and buy an electric car for local use but the project is just not feasible. Then, of course, I am just spending my own money and not other people's money. George K. McMillan.5 Mount Tabor Avenue,Perth. Taxpayers pick up tab for cars Sir,-Angus Council is to use government cash to lease two electric cars and buy a road sweeper which officials say will cut CO2 emissions by an extra six tonnes a year and help the council move towards targets set down under climate change legislation. Neighbourhood services convener Jim Millar commented that, "It's a great opportunity to pilot these vehicles at Scottish Government expense." I am sure he is aware that most governments get the majority of their revenue through taxation of the people. It is they, therefore, who will be picking up the tab for this scheme. Perhaps he should have said, "It's a great opportunity to pilot these vehicles at Scottish and even UK taxpayers' expense." In all this gearing up to go greener with electric cars in its transport fleet, where does Angus Council plan to get the recharge electricity for these vehicles so that they are not tapping into fossil fuel generation? Neil McKinnon.Tulchan Garden,Glenalmond,Perth. Religion at root of hatred Sir,-The decision by the Scottish Government to give taxpayers' money to anti-sectarian charities is a waste. The people who are primarily responsible for sectarianism are the churches and both halves of the Old Firm. It is these organisations who should be giving money to the anti-sectarian charities. The Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland pay no tax yet exert an enormous amount of power. The Catholic Church gets hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds to pay for their schools. These institutions foster a mindset of division. The gorilla in the room is religion. Alex Salmond and the rest within Holyrood won't face up to the fact religion is the cause of the problem of sectarianism. It is the equivalent of trying to treat a cancer patient without attacking the cancer. Alan Hinnrichs.2 Gillespie Terrace,Dundee. Obscenity of latest bonuses Sir,-At best, Barclays chief Bob Diamond's description of senior executives' multi-million pound pay deals as being good for Britain is disingenuous. It is, however, a further example of how people in similar positions are out of touch with factors affecting the public. For anyone to suggest these payments are in Britain's interest is surely divorced from social morality. Our servicemen and women, some of whom put their lives on the line daily, nurses, school teachers and police officers will be lucky to realise a pay packet of that size in a lifetime, let alone in a year. The government must act to curb this excess. Ron Connelly.43 Morlich Road,Dalgety Bay. Aberfeldy loo-ses out Sir,-When Perth and Kinross Council decided to set up comfort schemes to eventually replace all traditional public toilets, they spoke highly of the positive results in the Highland Council area. More recently, Highland have decided to go down the attended route. The Aberfeldy unattended toilet at Burnside was subjected to vandalism and closed as soon as the council had achieved the minimum requirement of four comfort schemes. It just so happened that two of these private businesses each had just a single loo also they were closest to the coach park. Just imagine a coach load of elderly people having to queue for a single loo. How much time does this take from their limited time in Aberfeldy and how many fewer shops can they visit? The other two comfort schemes were council controlled the leisure centre and the putting green. Were these chosen to make up the overall requirement of four? Aberfeldy has lost much of its vital coach tourism, partly due to many coaches now parking near The Black Watch Memorial, to use the more suitable putting green toilets. These visitors just see the memorial and Wade's Bridge, with no chance of buying anything from our shops in the town centre. Mike Turner.7 Wade Place,Aberfeldy. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

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

UK & World

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.


Kirk raises new fears over gay marriage

April 28 2015

The Church of Scotland has raised new concerns that ministers could be sued for refusing to marry gay couples. In a report due to be considered by the general assembly next month, officials have warned the organisation could be “vulnerable to legal challenge”. This is due to possible discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights. The report by the church’s Legal Questions Committee (LQC) says: “The scheme enables bodies such as the Church of Scotland and individual celebrants to be authorised to conduct different-sex marriages while at the same time refraining from seeking authorisation to conduct same-sex marriages. This legal structure may be argued to be discriminatory contrary to Articles 12 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.” There are suggestions the church could potentially pull out of solemnising all marriages but the report argues this would “rob ministers of one significant and evangelical opportunity” as marriages are an “important aspect of their ministry”. Concerns were also raised that any legal challenges could cause “financial” and “reputational” damages to the church. The Scottish Government says it protects those who do not wish to conduct ceremonies. But the LQC argues that if a legal challenge was successful, it would be repealed and likely replaced with a system where those who wish to carry out different-sex marriages must also oversee same-sex marriages.


Church forced to remove giant cross formally applies for planning permission

March 13 2017

A Dundee church forced to remove a giant cross has formally applied for planning permission to put it back up. Gilfillan Memorial Church fell foul of planning laws when it erected a giant 12-foot tall cross on the rear of the building in October last year. It was forced to remove the cross in November but has now formally applied to put it back up on the B-listed building, located on Whitehall Crescent. The structure was originally put up between the second and third floors of the church but planning permission is required for any large signs or advertising billboards put up on the side of buildings. Churches are exempt from listed building controls due to what is known as ecclesiastical exemption. However, this is limited to the interior of the 
buildings and as such, alterations to the exterior of a 
building must still go through the secular planning system. Church secretary Bill Allan said at the time that the failure to apply for planning permission was an oversight, saying: “A thought B was doing it, and B thought A was doing it." If the church’s application is unsuccessful and it is unable to reach an accommodation with the planning authority, the application is then referred to the decision-making body within the denomination concerned. Amid the row, the church gained support from an unusual source. The Scottish Secular Society lent its weight, saying that, despite the size of the cross, which was visible from across the waterfront area, the church was “within its rights” to display it as long as it secures the necessary permission. Chairwoman Megan Crawford said at the time: “The Scottish Secular Society consider a church, or any religious organisation, displaying a symbol of their faith to be potentially viewed by the public to be fully within their rights of worship. “As long as the Gilfillan Memorial church is not building on other people’s property, and remaining solely on their own, then it is their right to erect a 12-foot- tall crucifix.” The church was constructed in 1887 in memory of George Gilfillan,  a preacher and poet who counted both William 
McGonagall and Thomas de Quincy, the writer of Confessions of an English Opium Eater, among his friends. It gained listed status in 1965.


Bells ring out in America to mark re-burial in Fife

March 28 2015

The bells of an episcopal cathedral in the American midwest rang out in memory of a Fife magistrate whose 200-year-old remains were targeted by vandals. A cousin in Laramie, Wyoming, had the bells of St Matthew’s Cathedral toll the Trinity on Thursday to coincide with the interment service being held in Fife in memory of 19th-century East Neuk shipowner Stephen Williamson and his wife Mary Grieve. Beyond the mourners who gathered in the East Neuk, it has also emerged dozens of Williamsons around the world, from Argentina to New York, contributed to an email chain lending their words and support in the wake of the disturbance of the remains. Articles from The Courier had been circulated by the family to inform them of what had happened. Geordie Williamson, 42, who travelled to Fife from Australia, said: “It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge that larger familial support.” The Courier told how relatives paid homage to their ancestors at a poignant ceremony at Kilrenny Church. The eight descendents of Stephen Williamson, a local shipowner and farmer who died in 1816, gathered in 15th-Century Kilrenny Church, near Anstruther, to pay their respects as the bones were re-buried. The “macabre” desecration earlier this month was described as like a “21st-Century act of Burke and Hare”.

Readers' letters

September 23: Name new Perth bridge after famous angler

September 23 2010

Today our correspondents suggest a name for a new bridge and discuss tax breaks for the computer game industry, green energy, religion and schools. Name new Perth bridge after famous angler Sir, One of your readers suggested that a bridge over the River Tay at Perth, intended for pedestrians and cyclists, was a waste of money. How very Scottish. The cost of £1.38 million appears a good investment given that Scotland is often seen as the sick man of Europe with high death rates from heart disease and strokes. Anything that enables us to improve our lifestyle by reducing the burden on our health services must be money well spent and the council should be applauded. As concerns a name for this landmark, might I suggest Ballantyne's Bridge after Miss Georgina Ballantyne, who will forever be linked with the river having caught a Tay salmon in 1922 weighing 64lbs - a UK record for a salmon landed by rod and line. Kenneth G. N. Stewart.Landalla,Florence Place,Perth. Throwing good money after bad Sir, I am not sure if Steve Bargeton was being tongue-in-cheek in his recent diary column (September 18) but his opinion on the computer games industry was neatly juxtaposed with an article on the opposite page about the collapse of Dundee firm Realtime Worlds. Your political editor says that providing £40 million of tax breaks per year to the sector would provide the public purse with a net gain of £400 million in tax receipts and create 3500 graduate-level jobs and presumably solve world poverty and reverse global warming at the same time. If only life was that simple. The figures provided sound like typical industry/ political spiel. Meanwhile, back in the real(time) world, your other article quoted an industry expert as saying that the firm's pivotal APB game attracted sales of only one ninth of that necessary for its survival. It seems unlikely that tax breaks would have somehow enhanced the game sufficiently to increase its sales nine-fold. As history has shown time and time again, throwing public funds at fundamentally uncompetitive products and businesses is just taxpayers' money down the drain. Of course, taxpayer-funded assistance and a favourable regulatory environment can help industry in appropriate circumstances but the Scottish political mindset seems dominated by the need to find a deserving home for as much public money as possible - and there's always a queue of willing recipients, whether in the private or public sector. And while the bills for the profligacy have to be paid eventually, both Labour and the SNP seem preoccupied with trying to deny their part in the spending spree, while the Tories and Lib Dems are being accused of threatening the economic recovery by being over-zealous in trying to turn off the tap. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fantasy of green future Sir, The articles covering the views of the MSPs Jim Mather and Murdo Fraser on wind farms (September 20) are yet another reminder of the dangers of expanding onshore wind production in Scotland. Murdo Fraser is correct in pointing out the adverse effects on our landscape and hence tourism but the concept of visual amenity is subjective and personal. What is more objective and less arguable is the cost of installing the infrastructure and the vast amount of subsidies and incentives given to landowners and developers, relative to the amount of dependable electricity actually produced by wind turbines. Jim Mather and the Scottish Government have long known that wind farms are very poor sources of dependable power, frequently producing less than one per cent of UK supply. He and they also know that Scotland only produces around one-fifth of one per cent of the world's carbon emission "problem." As Energy Minister, Jim Mather owes us all an explanation of why he and his colleagues expect consumers to pay high prices to solve a "problem" that scarcely exists, using a system that scarcely works and at prices more and more people will scarcely be able to afford. It is time the fairy tale of wind power was ended. Ron Greer.Armoury House,Blair Atholl. Two-fronted attack on church Sir, Ian Wheeler asks if the threat of Islam is uniting Catholics and Protestants in the fight for survival (September 21). Let us hope so. Islam has powerful non-Muslim players in the field if you count the secular, the atheist and the left-liberal neo-Marxists, all with their own particular reasons for supporting Islam. The average British secularist disputes any religion but more so Christianity. The average militant atheist attacks the Christian God but, when challenged similarly to treat the Islamic God, refrains, claiming all religions are the same. The neo-Marxists are the most dangerous. Their liberal organisations support Islam in its anti-Christian and anti-capitalist stance which makes them useful in the fight to establish a "progressive" society. Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee. Educational poverty trap Sir, David Robertson's suggestions that the way to improve school performance in Dundee is to have more religion in them is simplistic and laughable. He erroneously states that schools in Scotland which are not Catholic are Christian. Presumably he means Protestant. I have never come across a school in Scotland which describes itself as Protestant. They are non-denominational. The solution to the gap between the children living in poverty and those who are not is a redistribution of wealth. We do not need to scare children into obedience by telling them untruths about eternity in hell. Alan Hinnrichs.2 Gillespie Terrace,Dundee. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.