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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...


Bid to end practice of reserving Fife councillors’ parking spaces

October 17 2016

A bid to end the practice of reserving car parking spaces for Fife councillors outside local authority buildings has been knocked back. Conservative councillor Dave Dempsey suggested he could find “no justification” whatsoever for car parking spaces to be reserved, particularly outside buildings like Fife House in Glenrothes where parking is already at a premium for staff and visitors. However, a motion to full council calling for spaces to be freed up was voted down, with a report on parking arrangements for councillors and council meetings now expected to be considered by the end of the year. Chief executive Steve Grimmond has been tasked with making recommendations on the issue, and these will be looked at by the council’s cross-party leaders group in due course. Mr Dempsey, whose motion was defeated 61 votes to five, said the privilege of parking near council buildings was a “small perk for those who happen to know about it”, adding that reserved spaces should be open to all. And he added: “I’m fed up with the time it takes to do simple and straightforward things. “We’ve already asked the chief executive of an organisation which has a budget of around £1 billion to write a report about parking for a few dozen people – the more I think about it, the more daft it becomes.” Council leader David Ross said the matter was not just confined to Fife House but other council buildings across the region, and backed the production of Mr Grimmond’s report which would make detailed recommendations. “Without taking a view on it, the point is that this issue has been under discussion and it isn’t that simple,” he said. “Issues have been raised about New City House in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy Town House, parking in other areas, so let’s do things in a sensible way.” SNP group leader Brian Goodall agreed with Mr Ross and supported the report coming forward, although he dismissed Mr Dempsey’s apparent bid to become a “champion of the workers”. “The simple reality is that there is political mischief at work here,” he noted. “We need something that is equitable, fair and does take into account that it is an inconvenience for workers.” Independent Bryan Poole said Mr Dempsey’s motion had been “completely and utterly opportunistic”, but said he felt parking spaces should not be reserved for councillors. SNP councillor John Beare, who does not have a car, said he could see the case for why spaces should be reserved for a civic head, but added: “If we’re going to make rules for staff, it should be for staff and council members.” And Independent councillor Bill Brown chipped in: “I don’t feel we should be treated any differently than council workers. “I don’t feel it’s right in this day and age to reserve places for councillors – why should we get special treatment?”

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


‘Lost opportunity’ pay claim rejected by Fife Council

April 18 2013

The appointment of Fife Council’s new chief executive is a “lost opportunity” because the appointment should have been for a fixed-contract period and his salary based on performance. That is the view of Rosyth SNP councillor Douglas Chapman who believes the appointment was an opportunity for the council administration to “break new ground”. Fife Council has appointed a new chief executive, Steve Grimmond, who will be taking on the top job at Scotland’s third-largest local authority in July. Mr Grimmond is the executive director, environment, enterprise and communities at Fife Council and has been with the organisation since 2005. Mr Chapman said: “I wish Fife’s new chief executive, Steve Grimmond, all the very best in his new job. However, this appointment was an opportunity for the council administration to break new ground. “Many Fifers will be surprised to know that their council’s chief executive earns more than Scotland’s First Minister, yet unless he seriously blots his copybook, the chief executive could be in this post for the rest of his career and then collect a generous pension, irrespective of his performance.” Linda Erskine, executive member for corporate services and finance, said: “We do not work in a bonus culture. We expect all our managers to perform to a high standard, none more so than the chief executive, who is paid accordingly. “Any under-performance would be managed through an appraisal process. “The appointments committee included representatives from all political parties The issue of moving to performance-related pay for the chief executive’s position was discussed as an option but there was no support for it. “There is no question of this being a lost opportunity, as it was an option which was considered and rejected. We look forward very much to working with Steve Grimmond, our new chief executive. “We have some real challenges in place over the coming years but there is a shared determination to see Fife continue to improve on performance and I believe we will be well prepared to meet those challenges together.” Mr Grimmond has said it was an “honour and a privilege” to become chief executive of Fife Council. “I relish the opportunity to work with the elected members and staff of the council to ensure we best serve the people and communities of Fife,” he said. Mr Grimmond joined Fife Council as head of community services, before being promoted to executive director, housing and communities. Previously, he has held a variety of posts, including director of leisure and arts, at Dundee City Council as well as area manager at Aberdeenshire Council. Mr Grimmond lives in Broughty Ferry with his family and particularly enjoys culture, sport and the arts. He is also a director of Creative Scotland. Fife Council leader Alex Rowley said: “I’m delighted to announce Steve Grimmond’s appointment and we look forward to working with him to deliver the best possible services for the people of Fife. “This is an extremely important appointment to head up the management of such a large and complex organisation, at a time when we face unprecedented levels of change and financial challenge.”

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Former Arbroath Rotary Club president Iain Grimmond

June 25 2016

A well-known figure in amateur music circles in Arbroath and Angus has died after a courageous battle with cancer. Iain Grimmond, 69, had been closely involved with music from an early age, singing with the Inverbrothock school choir at the Arbroath Music Festival, as well as the Elizabeth Gordon Children's Choir. In his younger days his interest in folk music saw him regularly attending the Arbroath Folk Club and, for a while, he performed with a group called The Ither Lot. His love of all types of music saw him taking part in productions by the Arbroath Musical Society where he became president, the Arbroath Choral Society, St Vigeans Church Choir,  Arbroath Male Voice Choir and he also enjoyed a few panto seasons with the Abbey Theatre and retained a connection there as a set builder. Latterly, he was well-known around Arbroath as one of the folk duo Inchcape, along with accordionist Tony Simpson who did extensive charity work. On leaving Arbroath High School, Mr Grimmond served an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer with Giddings & Lewis Fraser. He later worked as a service engineer with Callander Oils, Forfar and, after a short return to Giddings & Lewis Fraser, started a new career in charge of maintenance and installation of overhead cranes and chocolate refiners with Low & Duff (LADCO). His final employment took him all over the world working on control panels for a variety of machines with Arthur G Russell, later AGR Automation. Mr Grimmond was a past president of Arbroath Rotary Club and, earlier this year, part of the team that produced the Rotary Variety Show in the Webster Theatre, raising money for Ward 32 in Ninewells Hospital where he was receiving treatment. He is survived by his wife Shona, two daughters Kirsteen and Lynsey, and granddaughters Chloe and Holly.

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning's letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article 'Call for halt to beaver damage' (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar's letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife's fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. 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.

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 Council defends calling in legal adviser during school closure row

January 21 2014

Fife Council education officials have defended a decision to call in an external legal adviser to ensure the local authority’s proposed school closure consultation programme is being followed in a “correct, fair and transparent” manner. It came as Fife Council’s opposition leader, SNP Group leader councillor Peter Grant, asked for an urgent investigation into claims an external QC was brought in during a disagreement about where and when councillors should be allowed to discuss the threatened closure of seven primary schools across Fife. Mr Grant, whose Glenrothes ward includes closure-marked Tanshall Primary, said the affair only became public when the chairman of the council’s education, social and communities scrutiny committee, Susan Leslie, made a statement at the end of last Tuesday’s meeting. Mr Grant said: “The crux of the matter seems to be that councillors want to have the chance to properly examine the final reports on proposed school closures before the executive committee comes to a decision. “This is a perfectly reasonable request and, as far as I can see, the committee chair has been trying to honour it. “It appears, however, that, unknown to councillors, the council went and got legal advice and then used that advice to argue that the scrutiny committee couldn’t scrutinise the proposals in the way they wanted to. “It then seems to have been left to the committee chair to explain to the committee what had happened. “Of course, there will be times when a local authority needs to get specialist legal advice if it’s involved in a dispute with a third party. “If there was any serious dispute here, it was entirely between different groups within the council. “I find it extraordinary that we should need to bring in a QC to advise on an internal disagreement and I’m at a loss to understand why it was done without telling councillors.” Mr Grant has written to the council’s chief executive, Steve Grimmond, asking for an urgent report into the affair. He has also called for an immediate halt to any further committee decisions on the school closure programme until councillors have had a chance to consider any report by Mr Grimmond. Mr Grant said he has submitted a Freedom of Information request to ask the council to publish the legal advice it received, as well as all other related correspondence. Ms Leslie said she fought for the scrutiny committee to be allowed to do its job, adding: “Until I intervened, the information that was given to the QC was incomplete and actually, initially did not offer the best advice to the council. “After my intervention to ensure the QC did have all the advice, then the advice certainly did support scrutiny committee looking at this on February 3. “I would add there was only one other councillor who was fully aware of the matters I was trying to clear up with education and that was councillor Alex Rowley, who was 100% supportive of me.” Shelagh McLean, Fife Council directorate resources manager, said: “The school estate review is a tremendously important exercise and we want to ensure everything is done correctly and in accordance with the legislation. “In light of that, council officers have consulted and taken advice from an external legal adviser throughout the consultation programme, to ensure the process which is being followed is correct, fair and transparent. External legal advice was also sought about the timing of committee reports to scrutiny committee.”


Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."