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...
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
For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.
First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.
Budget 2015: Oil and gas tax overhaul would not have been possible under independence, says Chancellor
Chancellor George Osborne has announced a £1.3 billion package of support for the oil and gas industry in his final Budget before the general election while saying an independent Scotland “would never have been able to afford” the measures. Among the measures he set out in his Budget speech is a cut in the supplementary charge on oil industry companies' profits from 30% to 20%, backdated to January. The move effectively reverses the hike in the 2011 Budget when oil prices were much higher. Mr Osborne said the UK Government will cut petroleum revenue tax from 50% to 35% next year, introduce a "simple and generous" tax allowance to stimulate investment in the North Sea from the start of April and boost offshore exploration by investing £20 million in new seismic surveys of the UK continental shelf. The package is expected to result in more than £4 billion of additional investment over the next five years and increase production by 15% by the end of the decade.More on Budget 2015 Chancellor claims tough decisions have worked The key points How they reacted How it affects Scotland Technologists pleased with focus on the ‘Internet of Things’ Osborne aims at ‘renegade nationalists’ during battle memorial announcement"It goes without saying an independent Scotland would never have been able to afford such a package of support," Mr Osborne said. The North Sea has been hammered by the plunging price of oil, with hundreds of job cuts announced in recent months and fears a drop in investment could lead to the accelerated decommissioning of oil fields. Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it was a long overdue "U-turn". “Measures to safeguard the North Sea are a step in the right direction for our oil and gas sector," he said. "The Scottish Government has been calling for such measures, along with the industry, for some time. "Today’s measures are a glaring admission by the Chancellor that his policy for the North Sea has been wrong and the poor stewardship by the UK Government has had a detrimental impact on our oil and gas sector and the many people who work in the industry.For in-depth coverage of how the Budget will affect you, see Thursday's Courier"It has taken the Chancellor four years to admit the tax rise he implemented in 2011 was a mistake. A heavy price has been paid for this mismanagement. “Today I cautiously welcome the U-turn by the UK Government to take action on the future of the North Sea. We will study the proposals in detail. It is now essential that work is focused on boosting investment and growth in the North Sea sector.” Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "The major package of investment in our oil and gas sector, including a new investment allowance, a 10% cut in the supplementary charge and a 15% cut in petroleum revenue tax, shows that the UK Government is determined to safeguard the future of this vital national asset and keep our economy on the road to recovery." Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "The Chancellor has listened to the oil industry and come good on the pledge we made to help. "These tax breaks will aid investment and ensure a secure future for the North Sea. "Today's announcement won't be a cure for all of the North Sea's ills, but it's a strong start. "This is yet more proof that the North Sea is best served within the strength of the UK, which can deliver assistance a separate Scotland simply would not have been able to." Derek Leith, head of oil and gas taxation at Ernst and Young, said the package was "positive news" for the industry, with the reduction of petroleum revenue tax likely to boost more mature North Sea fields that have been taxed at a marginal rate of 81% despite falling production and rising costs. He said: "The UKCS (UK Continental Shelf) is a mature oil basin and, to remain capable of attracting international investment, it must have a very competitive tax regime. "The Government has taken a significant step towards creating such a regime today and industry will hope that further change will be forthcoming in the months ahead as industry, HMT and the new Oil and Gas Authority work together to ensure the longevity of a vital sector of the UK economy." The UK's biggest offshore trade union, Unite, said the industry must now end what it described as an "opportunistic assault" on North Sea jobs and conditions. Unite's Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: "We are clear that economic reform of the North Sea must go hand in hand with sustaining jobs and strengthening employment and workplace health safety rights. "What we cannot contemplate is a deregulated future for the North Sea - a race to the bottom on jobs and standards where workers will have to work longer for less. "Our challenge to the industry is this: You have got what you asked for, so stop attacking your workers' livelihoods and working conditions. "With their morale at rock bottom, the workforce needs this confirmed immediately." Industry body Oil and Gas UK hailed the package as "sensible and far-sighted". Chief executive Malcolm Webb, said: "Today's announcement lays the foundations for the regeneration of the UK North Sea. The industry itself must now build on this by delivering the cost and efficiency improvements required to secure its competitiveness. "These measures send exactly the right signal to investors. They properly reflect the needs of this maturing oil and gas province and will allow the UK to compete internationally for investment. "We also welcome the Government's support for exploration announced today. With exploration drilling having collapsed to levels last seen in the 1970s, the announcement of £20 million for the newly formed Oil and Gas Authority to commission seismic and other surveys on the UK continental shelf (UKCS) is a very positive step. "Along with substantial industry efforts to address its high cost base and the regulatory changes now in train to provide more robust stewardship, the foresight shown by the Chancellor in introducing these measures, will, we believe pay real long-term dividends for the UK economy." Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "These measures were necessary to reflect the challenges facing the oil and gas sector in Scotland resulting from the prolonged low oil prices. "Together with a simplification of the tax allowance regime, this must be the start of a process to develop a strong and coherent fiscal plan for the North Sea that will help to ensure that Scotland and the UK continues to benefit from our natural resources in the long term." Derek Henderson, senior partner in Deloitte's Aberdeen office, said: "Today the Chancellor has recognised that immediate action was required to extend the life of the North Sea. "The changes announced are bold and a big step in the right direction. Without significant action, the consequences for future activity levels would have been severe. "This means at a time of low oil prices, high costs and challenging conditions, headline North Sea marginal rates now range between 50%-67.5%, instead of 62%-81% prior to last year's Autumn Statement." But environmental charity Friends of the Earth criticised the decision to introduce tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. Its senior economics campaigner David Powell said: "With growing calls to divest from fossil fuels, massive tax breaks aimed at squeezing more gas and oil out of the ground show how dangerously out of touch the Chancellor is on climate change. "The Chancellor should heed the Bank of England's warning about the threat climate change poses to our financial well-being by ditching support for gas and oil extraction - instead of propping it up. "Clean power and ending our fossil fuel addiction must be at the heart of energy and economic policy, not just a half-hearted sideshow."
Today's letters to The Courier. Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf earsSir,-One could almost feel the pride throughout J.J. Marshall's column about Morgan Academy, Dundee. What a pity he, and all the other former pupils, are not prepared to do something about the Morgan gravestone in the Howff. Some nine years ago The Nine Trades found it in a disgraceful state. They spent a great deal of money having new pillars cut and the stone repaired and replaced. The stone, however, needs the inscription re-cut. We obtained a quote of some £1300 for the work and committed the sum of £300 to start things off. Despite repeated pleas, often in your paper, for money to make up the balance, we have only had one response, a cheque from one grateful past pupil for £40. So much for the great pride Morgan pupils have in their old school. Work that out at a cost per proud pupil and it is less than a loaf of bread. Some pride. Innes A. Duffus.Dundee.Law Society stayed quietSir,-It must be really demoralising for law students, especially graduates trying to complete their articles and many still seeking employment, to see their profession being further denigrated. I would have thought that, even with its blemishes, the Scottish Law Society would be more than capable of dealing with any criminal case or human rights issue without any outside intervention. Whether politics were involved or not, I remember in 2009 the lord chancellor was one of the main instigators of the Supreme Court. At that time only three High Court judges from Scotland were appointed. With an issue proving so important to our nation, was there even a murmur at any level from the Scottish Law Society? In a constantly changing world perhaps now is the time for a re-appraisal of the Law Society and its role. James M. Fraser.39 High Street,Leven.Pension grumbles overstatedSir,-This morning's editorial (June 29) was spot on when it claimed the public-sector pension issue should have been addressed by the Labour government in 2005 when they memorably funked it. Increased longevity makes impossible continuance of an unreformed system. A 3% increase in contributions and a retirement age of 66 is not the end of the world. The professions tend to overestimate the income they will need in retirement and my kirk pension of £12,000 after 35 years, plus my state pension, has proved fine. My medical brothers received over four times that amount and retirement at 60 but I found the closing years before retirement at just past 65 the most rewarding of my entire career. As long as the poorer-paid public sector workers are protected, I think the better-off professionals with school fees and mortgages long past should keep a grip on reality. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Not the saviours they pretendSir,-The SNP's Alex Orr (June 27) is right to highlight Scotland's marginally better public spending deficit as compared to the UK generally, but at least the Westminster government has acknowledged the need to get it under control. However, the SNP wants to see a Scotland with fiscal policies like slashed corporation tax, significantly reduced fuel duty and tax breaks for favoured sectors such as computer games. The SNP is clearly reluctant to raise income tax or council taxes, or to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. But it makes lavish spending commitments. It surely ill behoves the Nationalists to favourably compare Scotland's deficit to that of the UK. No wonder the SNP is so keen for Scotland to have borrowing powers. Mr Orr highlights the role of oil revenues in an independent Scotland. But this merely underlines yet another future drain on Scotland's public purse, namely the subsidy-hungry renewables industry. There would also be a stealth tax in the form of rocketing energy bills. The SNP's attempts to depict themselves as the planet's environmental saviours, while at the same time portraying oil as the key to Scotland's future, shows that the party wants to have its renewables cake and eat it. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fairtrade status undermined Sir,-I note with interest your article (June 28) about Scotland being on course to become the world's second Fair Trade nation. Having been on the original working group which helped set up the Scottish Fair Trade Forum back in 2006, I think it would be wonderful to see this goal being achieved. Dundee became a Fairtrade City in March 2004, the first in Scotland, but this status needs to be renewed. That is currently under threat because, unlike other local authorities, Dundee City Council does not automatically provide Fairtrade catering for meetings. It would be a great shame if Scotland's Fair Trade nation accolade were denied because its first Fairtrade city lost its status. Sally Romilly.4 Westwood Terrace,Newport-on-Tay. Leuchars still at riskSir,-The fact that the MoD has spent millions on RAF Leuchars is no guarantee of saviour. Remember that a new hangar complex was built for rescue helicopters of 22 Squadron, only for the RAF to disband the flight. Stephen Pickering.19 Abbey Court,St Andrews.
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.
Sir, I note your leader column (Tuesday’s Courier) about the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report on Scotland’s economy. The report is a case of “bad data in” equals “bad data out” and bad conclusions. The IFS has used oil price projections from the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by Chancellor George Osborne, and, like the IFS, it is by no means neutral. It is staffed by City-trained and London-centric top-down, neo-classical, laissez-faire economists just likethe Treasury (HMT). The OBR and HMT have a reputation for forecasts that suit London’s short-term agenda by overestimating UK growth to help the Westminster Government and, in particular, underestimating North Sea oil prices. The other problem with using OBR data is that it forecasts Scottish oil and gas industry revenues by using what’s known in statistical analysis as an outlier, a statistical anomaly that is markedly different from others in a sample. Normally, when projecting economic data based on market prices, you would not use an outlier but a mean figure or one more representative of the whole sample. The OBR oil forecast is for an oil price of $98.00 per barrel but the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a well-respected multilateral financial organisation, takes data from the 28 most-developed economies in order to make projections and it is predicting an oil price of $190 per barrel in 2020. This means there is almost a $100 per barrel gap between outliers and instead of using a median figure, the IFS used the lowest outlier. Plug in the OECD upper outlier figure or the UK Government’s own Department of Environment and Climate Change’s forecast metric or the Scottish Government’s conservative projections and you get to a clear picture of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. Jim Duthie. 74b Gray Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Mr Salmond is no Mandela Sir, Dudley Treffry mentioned that independence served to create kleptomaniac leaders who served themselves, not their people (The Courier, 11/11). I lived and worked in South Africa, which during apartheid and afterwards was ruled by one political party both the white and black governments abused their power for their own benefit. President Nelson Mandela was a very special type of person who fully believed and practised reconciliation as far as possible. The ANC did not follow his lead. The SNP appears to be heading in the same direction. They have already overturned decisions made by local councils. A “yes” vote will see them with little opposition and they will soon forget any promises made. Mr Salmond does not have the attributes of President Mandela. Mike Wood. 10 Graham Court, Dundee. Clocking the difference Sir, Jack McKeown’s article on the swastika in The Courier (13/11) failed to mention one of the most important aspects of this symbol. There are two, distinct types of swastika: the holy symbol that has been used peacefully for centuries and the adapted version used by the Nazis. The former has outer legs which point in an anti-clockwise direction, while the Nazi version has outer legs which point clockwise. In the picture with the article, the swastika on the lad’s hand is the Nazi version. With this lack of appreciation of the difference between the two symbols it is possible that those who display the original version for peaceful or religious reasons may be vilified by those who are ignorant of the difference. Dave Forsyth. 112 Garvock Hill, Dunfermline. Long fall from hill to knoll Sir, It may surprise those raised on the Camelot myth but the news from Dallas 50 years ago tomorrow provoked a mixed reaction in the Californian college where I was astudent. Classes continued, after which I went surfing at Malibu and I only became aware of the reaction elsewhere in the US and in Europe when my father phoned from the UK. Before 24-hour news and the internet America was loosely connected but Californians were aware of JFK’s womanising, Marilyn Monroe and his father’s mob connections. Our student newspaper often mocked his oratory: a bombastic inauguration speech which led to the Cuban fiasco and his assurance to Berliners that he was a jam doughnut. The fact is his presidency was stalled, especially on civil rights, and my black pals were hoping for a future White House with Lyndon Johnson or Hubert Humphrey. But as occurred after the death of Princess Diana, television swept the nation up in a tsunami of maudlin nostalgia for a wholly illusory loss of hope and innocence. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
Sir, I am writing regarding the bedroom tax. I am a single person living in a two-bedroom flat. I did not want two bedrooms but this was what I was offered as there are so few one-bedroom flats available. So I am now being charged for something I did not ask for and do not want. I have tried to swap flats using Home Swapper but have had no luck. I am now going into rent debt as I cannot afford the extra charge. What am I to do? I am fearful that I will be evicted if I am in debt and could end up on the street through no fault of my own. I agree with Councillor Karen Marjoram that the bedroom tax is: “an ill-thought out, cruel tax on the people who are least able to deal with such large increases in their day-to-day costs.” Claire McCrae. 47 Cairns Street East, Kirkcaldy. Not acceptable behaviour Sir, It seems, from reading Wednesday’s Courier, that the views of Jim Crumley are becoming ever more bizarre. We already saw his views that Sea Eagles are a great addition to the wildlife of populated and industrialised North East Fife when, in fact, their natural habitat is the coastal wild areas of Norway from where they were imported. Now we see that he thinks the recent violent intimidation of Nigel Farage in Scotland’s capital city can be justified, because Scotland, politically, has always been left of centre and always opposed to intolerance. Many people actually believe that the UKIP view on immigration has nothing to do with intolerance and a lot to do with basic common sense and the preservation of culture, to say nothing about the effects on jobs and services. The intolerance demonstrated in the Nigel Farage episode was in fact the intimidation and denial of free speech brought about by a gang of loud-mouthed Scottish thugs, of the same degree of intolerance as those who believed it to be appropriate to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher by holding parties in Glasgow and elsewhere. It is surprising that Jim Crumley thinks that such behaviour is acceptable in 21st century Scotland. I certainly don’t. Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstuther. Why waste money? Sir, Re your recent article regarding the pedestrian crossing in Leslie, Fife, I find it confusing why this money is being spent for the following reason. The crossing in question is mainly used by people making their way to the post office. It is a well-known fact that the present post office is closing and is being re-located, therefore the amount of people using this crossing will be dramatically reduced (if this new location is not in a convenient place I fear for the future of a post office in Leslie). It is noted that our community council is contributing £3,000 towards the cost. I am sure there are better ways to spend this money, especially as the roads belong to Fife Council. There are many potholes and pavements in need of repair. The problem at the crossing would be resolved if cars were not parked next to the crossing which often makes it impossible to see anyone on the crossing. I thought it was illegal to park so close to a crossing? We keep hearing that money is short, so why then spend on such a project? It looks to me as though no proper planning has been done but, then again, we are talking about Fife Council and our money. JM Donnachie. Croft House, Leslie. Wrong to glory in “oil boom” Sir, It appears that the case for Scottish independence rests on the high revenues from the oil industry to sustain the Scottish economy. The SNP base their claims on a projected oil boom and an inflated estimate of the high price of oil. Unlike Norway, the Scottish Government do not own the oil fields offshore. The SNP assume that the global economy will continue to grow over the next decade so that the demand for oil will rise and sustain a high price for oil. But economists are predicting that the world economy may flatten, growth may be slow, so that energy prices may fall and profits will remain low. As the price of oil will fluctuate it will be irresponsible for an SNP government to glory in the prospect of an oil bonanza when there is the possibility of a shortfall in oil revenues leading to a deficit in government income and expenditure. The SNP fail to take into account a number of factors which will reduce and will lower the value of Scottish oil such as the opening of new oilfields in other parts of the world where production will be less costly than North Sea oil; the exploitation of shale oil and gas; nuclear power; the increasing demand for green energy and renewables. As the oil companies begin to develop less productive oilfields in the North Sea and tap the more inaccessible reserves, production costs will rise. And as the older oilfields become exhausted and go out of production the cost of decommissioning oil wells will run into billions of pounds. No doubt, the SNP will accuse me of scaremongering. I plead guilty, as I am definitely scared at the prospect of SNP policies being applied. (Rev) Ivor Gibson. 15 McInnes Road, Markinch.
Graeme Pallister, chef patron of 63 Tay Street in Perth, knows how to turn a simple picnic into a special occasion What images come to mind when you think of a picnic? A grand, elegant affair with champagne and crudités, or a well-worn thermos flask full of tinned soup with a cling-film-wrapped squashed cheese sandwich? For me, it’s lots of friends and family sitting on a rug (parents get the seats!) on a grassy hill somewhere. It might even be sunny for a change. The kids will be arguing over who ate the last chicken vol-au-vent and every so often a misplaced kick of a football causes havoc when it destroys the neatly arranged ‘banquet’! A picnic is a fantastic way to extend and enhance a day out. If you’re in the city you can find a park and really soak up it’s urban feel. Or if you’re out walking or bagging a munro you can take advantage of a beautiful view to eat and rest – it can be a great incentive knowing you have real treat ahead to help get you through that extra mile! But quite often a picnic can be a last minute decision where you nip into the supermarket to stock up on prepared salads and finger food. However, if you plan in advance, it can be something really special, with your friends and family each bringing something different to be shared. It doesn’t have to be just sandwiches, there are lots of exciting choices to be made: roast chicken drumsticks, grilled vegetables, potato and egg salads, melon (spiced with gin perhaps), crispy tortillas with various fresh dips, fruit kebabs or simply some good cheese or a roast ham. For me, one thing that is an absolute must at a picnic - Victoria sponge with cream and strawberries or raspberries. Without it I become a proper grumpy chef! So if you are thinking of a day away soon, spend a little time planning your basket. It can turn a day out into a cherished memory. Chef’s Tip I love roast chicken on a picnic. The night before, roast a chicken with half a bulb of garlic and half a lemon placed in the cavity. Once cooled, pick the meat from the bone then squeeze the garlic and lemon over the chicken pieces and toss in a little olive oil and seasoning. This can then be used in wraps, or as part of a salad. Try it with diced avocado, some Scottish soft cheese and spinach leaves. Yum!