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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…

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

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Fife

Fife appeals against ‘bedroom tax’ decisions get under way

August 27 2013

Groundbreaking appeals against controversial bedroom tax decisions are under way in Fife. Eight test cases challenging Fife Council’s decision to cut housing benefit in line with new UK Government legislation were brought before a tribunal in Kirkcaldy. The hearings were the first in Scotland to dispute the contentious law and follow a number of appeals in Birmingham. Further tribunals will be held in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire later this week. As anti-bedroom tax protesters gathered outside Pathhead Parish Church, where the appeals were heard throughout the day, independent tribunal chairman Simon Collins QC acknowledged the Government’s legislation was new and controversial, and said it would take time to get to grips with it. Mr Collins added that the regulations were “harsh” but made it clear his job was not to take into account the effect they would have on tenants but to apply them according to the law. The appeals followed the introduction of the policy, which has seen social tenants with more bedrooms than they are deemed to need having their housing benefit reduced. Those with one extra room have had their benefit cut by 14%, while those with two or more extra rooms have suffered a 25% cut. Some 6,261 people are affected in Fife, along with 75,000 others across Scotland. Louise McLeary, spokesperson for the Fife Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign, was one of those to appeal against a 14% cut in her benefit. Louise, who is blind, argued that the second bedroom in her specially-adapted home was used solely to house braille and specialist computer equipment and to give her guide dog a place to sleep. Her lawyer Graeme Sutherland, from Fife Law Centre, said she had not asked for a two-bedroom house but had been allocated it following an assessment of need. Adding that the legislation was vague, Mr Sutherland said the definition of a bedroom was not properly explained. Pointing out that Miss McLeary receives assistance with shopping and housework from her landlord Kingdom Housing, Mr Sutherland said: “My submission is the claimant can’t do without the care she is provided with. “It is absolutely essential for her and there is a legal obligation for the landlord to provide the care. “This house has already been adapted. It would be a travesty if, because of the harsh application of these particular rules, she would be required to give this property up.” Representing Fife Council, Les Robertson, of the finance and procurement service, argued Miss McLeary’s property did not fall into the exempt category. “Kingdom Housing has confirmed this is a two-bedroom property,” he said. “By applying the regulations, the council has no option but to apply the reduction in housing benefit.” He added: “We are relying on landlords to accurately describe their properties. There is no definition of minimum bedroom size.” However, Mr Collins said that was “slightly ambiguous”, adding: “It’s up to the local authority to make its own decision that the landlord has accurately described the property. “Because this is an appeal, it is now for me to decide what a bedroom is. In this case, the council has made a decision based on the landlord’s description but hasn’t even gone round to inspect the room.” Summing up, the QC added: “These are harsh regulations about which people may have legitimate grievance, but that’s not a matter for me. “I have to decide what they mean and apply them. I hope you appreciate this is a new and controversial matter the tribunal needs to get to grips with.”

Scotland

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit. The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons. They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states. The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”. Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session. Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added. The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler. In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”. He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest. “If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right. “But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest. “It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.” Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve. David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address. The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said. Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic. “In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

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

UK & World

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit. Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons. They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal. The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states. Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court. On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”. The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session. The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision. Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve. David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address. The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said. Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome. “However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect. “In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.” He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic. “In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.” The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.” The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project. Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t. “I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

Politicians join forces in bid to discover if UK can change mind over Brexit

November 30 2017

Green MSPs have united with MEPs from Labour and the SNP in a bid to discover if the UK can legally change its mind on Brexit and stay part of the European Union. The four politicians – Greens Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, together with the SNP’s Alyn Smith and David Martin of Labour – are seeking to find out if the UK can unilaterally revoke the Article 50 letter. That was submitted by Theresa May in March this year, formally marking the start of Britain’s two-year withdrawal process from the EU. But the four politicians are seeking to petition the Court of Session in Edinburgh, urging judges there to refer the matter on to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. A crowdfunding appeal has been launched to cover the legal costs, with the group seeking to raise £50,000 by December 29. Within 12 hours of the appeal going live, they had raised almost £10,000. In a letter sent to Brexit Secretary David Davis and Lord Keen QC, the Advocate General for Scotland, the politicians insist that the UK Government’s interpretation of Article 50 is “wrong as a matter of law”. It argues that if Article 50 is “properly interpreted as a matter of EU law and public international law, the Article 50 notification by any member state may in fact unilaterally be withdrawn by the member state at any point within the two year period”. Jo Maugham QC, a leading lawyer involved in the case said the “key thing to recognise is contrary to what Theresa May said the die was not cast on March 29 2017” when the UK’s Article 50 letter was submitted. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland the case was seeking to make clear that the UK does not require the consent of the other 27 European member states to pull out of the Brexit process. Mr Maugham said: “We seek to say that Article 50 can be revoked, the notice can be withdrawn, without needing permission. “That’s a question that only the Court of Justice in Luxembourg can answer and so this group of cross party MSPs and MEPs have got together to bring a case in the court of session to seek to persuade that court to refer this questions to Luxembourg.” He added: “The question of whether it can be unilaterally revoked is not one that has a definitive answer and it won’t have a definitive answer until the Court of Justice, which is the only decision maker, speaks upon that question.” The lawyer also stated the Brexit referendum in June 2016 was only an advisory vote, and the UK Parliament did not need to be bound by the result of the ballot.

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.

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.

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