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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Community council meeting hears strong opposition to plans for Hillside Hotel

February 29 2012

A critic of major changes planned for an Angus hotel has told of ''anger'' in the community at the proposals. A ''six-figure'' investment for a major extension and refurbishment has been mooted for the Hillside Hotel involving the construction of five self-catering units in its grounds. The development in the village near Montrose would also see its nine bedrooms renovated to become five larger bedrooms. A reception, reshaped bar and an extended kitchen are also included in the plans, which are due to come up before Angus Council next month. However, a public meeting to discuss the plans at Hillside Village Hall was overwhelmingly against the changes. Hillside, Dun and Logie Pert Community Council invited the hotel's owners to the meeting, but they did not attend. In 2010, the owners had an application to transform the site into nine flats refused, with residents objecting the loss of the hotel and the only bar in the village. Community council deputy chairwoman Gill Davies told The Courier: ''We've been down this road before a couple of years ago, when the owners were planning to build flats the first time. ''The people in the village have known for quite some time that they would reapply.'' Local councillors David May and Paul Valentine attended the meeting, to which as many as 60 villagers turned up. A hotel spokesman previously said the revised planning measures were being put forward with a view to upgrading the business before selling it on. He said: ''It is well documented how many hotels and bars are shutting down just now and we decided that we needed to do something to get the place back in shape.'' Confusion over deadlines means the council is still allowing representations to be made at this point.

Angus & The Mearns

Hillside Hotel owners return with new revamp plan

February 23 2012

An Angus hotel could be in line for a ''six-figure'' investment for a major extension and refurbishment. The Hillside Hotel is at the centre of a planning application for the construction of five new self-catering units within its grounds. If approved, the development in Hillside near Montrose would also see the existing nine bedrooms renovated to become five larger bedrooms. A new reception area, a reshaped bar and an extended kitchen are also included in the plans, which are due to come up for approval with Angus Council next month. Car parking spaces would increase from eight to 12, although the vehicle access arrangements are not scheduled for change. A public meeting to discuss the proposal was held in Hillside Village Hall on Wednesday night. In 2010 the owners had a controversial application to transform the site into nine flats refused, with residents objecting the loss of the hotel and the only bar in the village. A hotel spokesman said the revised planning measures were being put forward with a view to upgrading the business before selling it on. He said: ''It is well documented how many hotels and bars are shutting down just now and we decided that we needed to do something to get the place back in shape. ''We have not done much other than cosmetic refurbishments over the last five years and we are looking to take it from a quaint family-run business to something that is much more modern. ''What we are spending is a big amount for any business and it is a bit of a calculated gamble. We are really hoping to attract new customers to the bar from the village and from outside the area,'' he continued. The bar area would be changed from a an L-shaped room to a larger space more suitable for hosting band nights and other functions. A lift for disabled guests would be included. The spokesman added: ''We have to speculate to accumulate and we want to put more rooms and more facilities in for people, to get the place into better shape. ''We are hoping it all comes off. It would be good to see the place getting a proper facelift.'' The hotel is in the area of Hillside, Dun and Logie Pert Community Council, which discussed the proposal at the latest meeting. Although only basic details have been released, members of the group said they were keen to learn more.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Big family will be ‘broken apart’ if Montrose bowls club closes

October 10 2013

Members from three bowling clubs under threat have spoken out ahead of a crunch council meeting which will decide their future. Montrose area clubs Hillside, Inch and Melville have all offered to pay higher rents to the council but not at a level that would meet their £15,000-a-year maintenance costs. The corporate services committee will consider whether to accept the offered rents or consider alternative use for their sites. The offers have been described as “unsustainable” by strategic director Alan McKeown in his report to councillors. Kenneth Marvelley, president of Inch Bowling Club, which operates on council-owned land on Rossie Island, said the doubts over the club’s future had led to some members going to other clubs. He said: “We are down to 15 members and we offered to increase our fees from £24.80 to £60 for a total of £900 a year rent. There is no way we’d be able to afford to take on all the maintenance. “The club is like one big family but we are being broken apart. This will also completely destroy the league between the clubs.” Mr McKeown suggested the bowling club land could be used to extend the council’s neighbouring cemetery. “If the club are unable to continue, the land could be utilised as an extension to the adjacent cemetery, which is now reaching capacity and either requires extending or a new cemetery would have to be secured elsewhere,” he said in his report. “This eventuality would enable Angus Council to extend the cemetery and make a significant annual saving of £15,000 in not carrying out maintenance of the bowling green.” Hillside Bowling Club operates from Hillside Park, which Angus Council has leased until May 2023. The club has offered an annual rent of £500 and to take on some minor maintenance works. Hillside’s president Raymond Nicoll said: “This has been a cloud above us. Folk don’t know what’s going on.” Mr McKeown said the club’s ground could be amalgamated into the surrounding parkland at a cost of between £3,000 and £4,000. He said: “Given the land is not in council ownership and the long-term future of the ground is uncertain, it may be considered appropriate that cost savings to the maintenance budget are met here. “This option would save the annual maintenance figure of £15,000 for the remaining nine years of the lease.” Hazel Campbell from Melville Bowling Green in Montrose, which proposed increasing its rental payments to £570 a year, said a solution could be for the three clubs to amalgamate. She said: “Perhaps the best way forward would be if the three affected clubs got together and discussed amalgamating into one. Melville was formed in 1875 but if the council takes this decision all the history will be lost. “If these facilities go then they will never be returned. The club is not just about the sport but it’s about the community getting together. We often have people coming along just to watch our games.” Mr McKeown said there was “no wide community benefit” from Melville. He said: “Due to its location in Montrose it would be possible to infill the green and create a parkland area with appropriate planting at an approximate cost of £2,000. The club building could be leased on the open market.” Hope Paton Bowling Club in Montrose and Boyle Park Bowling Club in Forfar are responsible for maintenance of their greens. Angus Council is proposing entering into a 10-year lease with each club, setting a rent of £200 per annum from April. Lease negotiations with Birkhill Bowling Club have been put on hold while the assessment for a community asset transfer is considered.

Angus & The Mearns

Council Election 2017: Montrose and District (Ward 8)

April 29 2017

The only Liberal Democrat councillor, David May, has decided to not stand for re-election. Meanwhile the SNP deputy leader Paul Valentine wasn’t selected as a candidate by the party’s Montrose and District branch and will be replaced on the ballot by Gill Stranock. Councillors Bill Duff (SNP) and Mark Salmond (Independent) are seeking re-election. The other candidates are Pamela Ruddy (Labour), Avril Simpson (Liberal Democrats), Thomas Stewart (Independent) and Ron Sturrock (Conservatives). The erosion of the sand dunes at Montrose continue to be a big issue in the town, with critics of the council claiming that not enough has been done to protect the town’s golf course from the North Sea. It has been estimated that the sea has crept 70 metres towards the town in the last 30 years which has resulted in the layout of some of the holes of the links course – the fifth oldest in the world – to be changed. Angus councillors gave the green light to a 50-hectare business park development in Charleton Road, but the oil industry downturn has hit the town hard – most recently with the news that Texas-based National Oilwell Varco plans to shed around half its town workforce. Work is also under way in creating a spine road in the town that will improve access to the port, the GlaxoSmithKline plant and the wider port area in a bid to make the area more attractive to investors. Last year the Scottish Government unveiled plans to upgrade the one and a half mile section of the railway line between Usan and the South Esk that is currently a single track to improve train frequency and running times.   Candidate profiles The Courier invited each candidate to submit a short introduction to themselves and, if they wished, a video explaining why they deserve your vote.   Bill Duff (SNP) I have very much enjoyed being a councillor since elected in 2012. Every week is different, bringing new challenges and problems to solve for my constituents in Montrose and District. In that time, I have supported a wide variety of local organisations that do vital work in our community making Montrose a better place to live in. The SNP-run council has made progress in improving the way the council works and doing more with less resources. A variety of efficiency measures has ensured that reduced public money has been spent on front line services. The next five years will be challenging and I believe we need a coherent group of dedicated hard-working SNP councillors to ensure continuing progress as a county and working collaboratively with the Scottish Government. My personal priorities are economic development, infrastructure improvement and education. The Tay Cities deal will afford exciting opportunities for Angus.   Pamela Ruddy (Labour) This election isn’t about the constitution. It is our chance to focus on the local community and the services we rely upon. I love living in Montrose - it is a great place to raise a family. However, since I moved here nine years ago I’ve seen our local services cut, under threat, stretched thin and made less local - mental health services, maternity services and the GP ward at Montrose Infirmary, community alarm, loss of wardens in sheltered housing, reduction in library hours, threats to local play parks, schools understaffed and the school uniform grant abolished. I want to do my bit to protect the services we have and support our community in future. If you share my concerns about the loss of services in Montrose, please give me your first preference on May 4 and I will take that message to the council chamber.   Mark Salmond (independent) As an independent councillor representing Montrose for 14 years, I’ve gained valuable experience and knowledge to resolve your issues. Party politics get in the way of common sense. I’ve proved you don’t need to be in a political party to get things done. The loudest voice is not always heard. My voice and views are heard and listened to in Angus Council and I have a track record of delivering on my promises. I don’t easily accept the answer no or ‘it can’t be done’. Knowing who to ask and with persuasion, it usually can be done. Montrose beach coastal erosion, new primary schools and retention of Montrose Infirmary are my priorities for Montrose moving forward. Montrose’s future is bright. Keep politics out of Angus to allow Montrose to prosper. I will always put Montrose first.   Avril Simpson (Lib Dem) I was born and brought up in Hillside, Montrose. After training and work experience in Edinburgh and the Borders, I came back to teach at Montrose Academy for 20 years. I am now retired but I still take a great interest in education in general and with the loss of my subject, home economics, in some schools no wonder there is a problem with obesity. School discipline is a great concern. I am involved with voluntary work with Angus Carers Centre, Caring For the Elderly and our local medical practice. I am concerned with fundraising for MS Trust and Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance. At present I am a member of the community council in Forfar where we have discussed at length the problems of the closures of certain recycling centres. The crossing to Laurencekirk from the Montrose/Marykirk road has at last been approved but when is the great problem. The closure of the Mulberry unit at Stracathro and Frank's Law are another two issues which cause me concern.   Tommy Stewart (independent) I am Montrose born and bred and live in the town with my wife Marion. I have always had a keen interest in local issues and I have always been of the belief that politics has no place in local government. Those elected should have the interests of the town at the forefront of their mind along with a 'hands on' approach. I am chairman of the local charity Santa Claus in Montrose, raising money which we donate back into the community supporting local causes, and I’m probably better known to most in my role as Santa Claus. Montrose and Angus as a whole has suffered over the last five years, from reductions in services to anti social issues. If elected to serve, I will work hard for Montrose, as an active and approachable councillor with a strong voice, working to the best of my ability for the town.   Gill Stranock (SNP) My working career began with the NHS at the age of 17. After having children I returned to nursing and qualified as a registered nurse in 2002, gaining a BSc in accident and emergency nursing. As well as working in the NHS, I became a local businesswoman, owning and managing a post office. I am involved with charity and voluntary organisations and an active member of Hillside Dun and Logie Pert Community Council. Within this role I have led campaigns for new road structures, school crossing safety and traffic control. I learned the importance of listening to the views and concerns of others and how to help achieve change. A strong voice, determination and drive is needed. I would like to be that strong voice, helping to make that change for the whole community. I am absolutely passionate about serving the community for the better.   Ron Sturrock (Conservative) I am retired from oil major management, effective and successful team leader operating in the international arena. I have been a Ferryden resident for over 40 years and a member of the Ferryden and Craig Community Council. My principal objectives are: Economic development support: e.g. Montrose Port Authority plans. Education: promote the highest quality provision and outcomes coupled with closing the attainment gap. Infrastructure improvements: e.g. a new road between Montrose and the A90. Pensioners: increased numbers projected, plan for expected added pressure on health, housing and social care services. Vehicle speed reduction: review and propose measures in collaboration with the police and local community. Disability: having a disability myself, I’ll be pro-active in continuing to break down social and workplace barriers. Local campaigning: e.g. town centre improvements, local health issues, golf links erosion. Modernising council structures to provide cost effective and efficient service provision. Collaborate across party lines in support of ideas beneficial to Montrose and Angus.

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.

Fife

EXCLUSIVE: Scottish Government denies ‘sick note’ tag as another council lashes out

October 3 2016

The Scottish Government has been forced to deny a sick-note tag after a second council complained of a key economic report being pushed back. Lesley Laird, Fife Council’s depute leader, raised concerns about a triple delay to the Kingdom's Local Development Plan, which has been sitting with the Scottish Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) for more than a year. It comes after The Courier revealed Perth and Kinross Council officials blamed "significant resource issues due to staff illness and retirements" at DPEA for the TayPlan potentially falling behind schedule, although ministers insist that remains on track. Councillor Laird said: “It wasn’t a surprise that the FIFEplan has gone over the DPEA’s target date of 1 June, 2016 due to the size of Fife, number of settlements and complexity of some of the issues in our community. We have now been informed by the DPEA on three occasions that the examination process has been further extended. “As well as creating uncertainty for communities and developers alike, the growing timescale for the examination is likely to lead to a significant cost increase for the council, as we are required to bear the cost of the examination. Our current estimate is that the examination will cost £180,000, as reporter time is charged at £400 per day. “I have asked the Scottish Government, to provide clarity on when the FIFEplan will now be approved, and in view of the significant costs overrun, if it would consider bearing the cost of this examination to avoid it having to be met by Fife council tax payers.” Ms Laird has now written to Kevin Stewart, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, to raise the authority's concerns. Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said the latest revelation proved DPEA "is on its knees" and claimed the problem extends nationwide. He said: "Reports of delays are emerging from multiple areas of the country and these delays risk the timely progress of local development plans. "The Fife Plan process is the subject of considerable debate in communities and it is essential for business to see progress too. "The SNP Government need to step up and explain how they are intending to fix this problem." Senior Scottish Government sources insisted DPEA sickness absence rates are lower than the average across the civil service north of the border. A spokeswoman said the department is currently dealing with "an exceptionally high workload" and has recently recruited an extra nine self-employed reporters to try not to fall further behind. She added: "However, the reporters considering the Fife Local Development Plan have had to issue over 100 requests for more information because of insufficient information submitted by the council. "This is an unprecedented number and has inevitably had an impact on the length of time being taken to conduct the examination, which is expected to be submitted to the local authority at the end of October."

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

Angus & The Mearns

‘My heart beats Arbroath’ former chairwoman considers bid to resurrect town’s community council

September 16 2015

Angus Council is looking to resurrect Arbroath’s community council from the ashes. The trouble-hit community council fell by the wayside two years ago after months of infighting and uncertainty. Cracks began to appear when chairwoman Patricia Millar quit in December 2011 after 24 years’ service as a community councillor amid an apparent power struggle in the ranks. Meetings were then put on hold after an incident in April 2013 which saw six police officers called to the regular meeting venue, Arbroath Volunteer Centre. The 999 call was made by secretary Angela Smith, who became distressed over heated questions over the proposed closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court. That resulted in meetings being put scrapped over the summer months before Angus Council officials finally shut down the group in September 2013 after a string of resignations put membership below the required level. Notice of election has now been published for members to serve on Angus community councils including 20 posts in Arbroath. Mrs Millar now says she would not rule out a return to the community council despite walking away four years ago. She said: “A community council has been sadly lacking in Arbroath. Arbroath is the biggest town in Angus and it needs to have a representative voice of its people. “I would welcome community minded people from all ages and all backgrounds submitting a nomination. “Would I put my own name forward? My head tells me no but my heart beats Arbroath. Is it wise to go back? Am I yesterday’s news? “But I think I still have something to give. It’s a lot of work but it is very rewarding when you make a difference. “I would like to think I could take on a mentoring role because I’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt.” There are vacancies available in Aberlemno, Auchterhouse, Carnoustie, Brechin, Ferryden and Craig, Friockheim, Glamis, Hillside, Dun and Logie Pert, Inverarity, Inveresk, Kirriemuir, Kirriemuir Landward East, Kirriemuir Landward West, Letham and District, Lunanhead & District, Monifieth, Monikie and Newbigging, Montrose, Muirhead, Birkhill and Liff, Murroes and Wellbank, Newtyle and Eassie, Forfar, Strathmartine and Tealing. From now until Monday September 28, residents are invited to put themselves forward as candidates in their community council area by submitting a nomination paper and personal statement to the returning officer. Nomination forms are available from the Returning Officer (Community Council Elections), Elections Office, Angus House, Orchardbank Business Park, Forfar, DD8 1AN, Community Council secretaries. They can also be downloaded from our community council election pages and can be submitted on any week day between 10am to 4pm up until 4pm on September 28. Maps of community council areas are available to view in public libraries and can also be viewed on our community council pages. Voting for contested elections is scheduled to take place on week beginning Monday October 26, with results declared a week later. Anyone who requires further information or advice can contact the returning officer (community council elections) on 01307 476261 or email elections@angus.gov.uk.

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