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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

Business news

Carney takes aim at lack of regulation of Bitcoin

March 2 2018

The Governor of the Bank of England has raised concerns about a lack of regulation for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but said the bank had an open mind about eventually launching its own digital finance platform. In a video-linked speech from London to the inaugural Scottish Economics Conference , Mark Carney repeatedly referenced Fife economist Adam Smith. He said the technology behind cryptocurrencies was interesting but its emergence into the financial mainstream raised a number of issues. He also said the development of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) was being actively pursued although it would not necessarily be brought to market, adding: “ A CBDC shouldn’t be a solution in search of a problem or an effort of central bankers to be down with the kids.” The conference was supported by six Scottish higher education institutions including the universities of St Andrews and Dundee. In his speech, Mr Carney said the current generation of cryptocurrencies are failing to fulfil the role of a replacement for money, with the market being subject to extreme volatility due to the fact the currencies neither have intrinsic value nor external financial backing. He said the prospects of cryptocurrencies replacing fiat money – the term used for currency that a government has declared to be legal tender but which is not backed by a physical commodity – was “tenuous at best.” He said issues such as market integrity, money laundering, terrorism financing, tax evasion and the circumvention of capital controls and international sanctions had to be addressed if cryptocurrencies were to be formally recognised in future. However, he cautioned against the stifling of technological innovation that could improve financial systems and stability in future. “Authorities need to decide whether to isolate, regulate or integrate crypto-assets and their associated activities,” Mr Carney said. “A few jurisdictions have banned crypto-assets outright. “And some regulators have sealed off crypto-assets from the core of the financial system in order to curtail risk of contagion. “Most prominently, China - which had been one of the most active crypto-asset markets - recently banned exchanges, financial institutions and payment processors from handling them. “If widely adopted, however, isolation risks foregoing potentially major opportunities from the development of the underlying payments technologies. “A better path would be to regulate elements of the crypto-asset ecosystem to combat illicit activities, promote market integrity, and protect the safety and soundness of the financial system. “The time has come to hold the crypto-asset ecosystem to the same standards as the rest of the financial system. “Being part of the financial system brings enormous privileges, but with them great responsibilities.” Bitcoin surged to prominence after a single coin’s value soared to almost $20,000 in January. Its value has fluctuated wildly since and a single Bitcoin is currently trading at around $10, 875.

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.

UK & World

Full fiscal powers for Scotland would benefit emerging industries, says Scottish Government

January 11 2011

Video game developers and renewable energy projects would receive "crucial" benefits if Holyrood was given greater financial powers, the Scottish Government has said. The SNP administration claimed renewable energy projects, such as those planned for Tayside and Fife, would be in line for extra support if the Scottish Parliament was able to set its own tax agenda, as would Dundee's video games industry. External affairs minister Fiona Hyslop cited the two "key and emerging economic sectors" as she made the case for greater fiscal autonomy from Westminster. She insisted Scotland requires greater borrowing powers to fund capital projects like the new Forth crossing and a cheaper tax system similar to that in Finland. Scrutiny of the recent Scotland Bill is to continue at Holyrood today, with the SNP administration set to reject the "limited range" of extra powers on offer in favour of full financial responsibility. Government economists estimate that Scotland's budget will see a £39 billion cumulative loss over the next 15 years under the present Scotland Bill proposals.'Diluted power'Ms Hyslop said, "As it stands the Scotland Bill is a missed opportunity with no real levers to stimulate growth in the Scottish economy. A diluted power to vary the rate of income tax in Scotland, without any other significant tax powers, could leave Scotland with an unpalatable choice of either cutting income tax along with spending on essential public services or raising income tax, thus making Scotland less competitive." A government paper published on Monday set out a range of "economic policy levers" it could deploy if it was given greater control over Scotland's finances. It proposed a more "streamlined" tax system to bring the cost of administering taxes more in line with Norway, which spends half as much as the UK, or Finland, which spends two-thirds less. It also called for a new corporate tax structure to attract businesses, reforms to the welfare system and extra research into Scotland's key industries such as renewable energy, life sciences and food and drink. Ms Hyslop added, "I hope that both parliaments will take account of these views and call on the UK Government to raise its ambitions for Scotland. Our paper sets out the opportunities for Scotland if it had full control over fiscal matters, either under independence or full financial responsibility within the UK. "It is crucial Scotland gets control of the economic levers to deal with the Westminster spending cuts through the increased growth that only the powers of independence or financial responsibility can deliver. Independence or full financial responsibility would allow the tax system to be structured to support Scotland's key and emerging economic sectors, such as renewable energy and video games development."Bill analysisA Westminster committee has been formed to investigate whether the Scotland Bill's planned shake-up of Holyrood's financial powers would leave Scotland better or worse off. A specially-convened Holyrood committee has also been established to scrutinise the legislation, with MSPs already having heard from Scottish secretary Michael Moore and finance secretary John Swinney. The committee will today hear from several academics on the potential impact of the changes, including Professor Drew Scott of Edinburgh University and Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett of Washington DC's George Mason University and St Andrews University. Tayside and Fife both hope to cash in on the renewable energy boom, with Methil and Dundee perfectly placed to help service offshore wind farms in the North Sea. It is hoped that offshore wind could lead to the creation of up to 28,000 jobs in Scotland and bring £7.1 billion to the economy.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Readers' letters

February 11: Is political obstinacy the barrier to taking a sensible line on power generation?

February 11 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I never thought I would find myself in the same camp as the awesome and awful Donald Trump, but he has got one thing right it is worrying that Scotland is depending more and more on tourism as the saviour of the economy. There is nothing wrong with tourism it has led to an enormous upsurge in the quality of restaurants, hotels, etc but it is manufacturing that is going to pay the bills, and that is going down rather than up. Westminster and Edinburgh plug green power for all it is worth, resulting in the ruination of many magnificent landscapes with pylons and windfarms in direct contrast to what is desired by the tourist industry. Many of your readers have put far better than I am able how inefficient wind power is. Much more worrying is how likely it is that we are going to run out of power altogether and become reliant on European neighbours, who have more sense than we do, for necessary imported power. Nobody in Britain is investing in new and proper power stations. We have under Scotland about a 500-year supply of coal. We also have the technology to extract cleanly electric power from this coal. Why are we not doing the sensible thing and creating thousands of jobs in extracting and using this coal and becoming a massive exporter of power? Political obstinacy? Flexible thinking, it seems, is highly regarded in every area, except where it involves a politician doing a u-turn. Robert Lightband.Clepington Court,Dundee. Rugby club finances are in robust health Sir, - I refer to the article published in The Courier on February 6, reporting Cupar Community Council's support of Howe of Fife RFC's efforts to explore the possibility of it creating clubhouse facilities at Duffus Park, Cupar. The club welcomes the community council's support of this venture. However, the comments in the article attributed to its chairman, Canon Pat McInally, as regards the club's financial integrity were wholly inaccurate. Howe of Fife RFC is not, and never has been "...just about bankrupt..." as Canon McInally was quoted as saying. To the contrary, the finances of the rugby club are in robust health with its clubhouse operation trading profitably. I am sure that neither Canon McInally, nor any of the members of the community council, would have intended to cast doubt on the club's financial well-being, but, that, unfortunately, is what the article has achieved. In these circumstances, it is important that the record be set straight in order to allay any unfounded concerns that may have been raised amongst both the club's membership and the general public. Over many years Howe of Fife RFC has built a deserved reputation as a force in developing youth rugby. The project currently under consideration is driven by the club's ambition to build on that reputation and, ultimately, if possible, to provide improved facilities for all its members, but, in particular, the youth of the club. David Harley.President,Howe of Fife RFC. Where is the evidence? Sir, - Isn't living in Scotland interesting? Despite 75% of the electorate declining to vote SNP last May and the referendum being at least two years away, Ian Angus claims in his letter (February 8) that Mr Salmond has a "mandate for independence"! As if that's not enough he has decided that those who choose not to vote in the referendum must be opposed to the union, so a vote of less than 50% for independence will give the "green light" to go ahead with negotiations. Where on earth does he get the evidence for these statements? Kenn McLeod.70 Ralston Drive,Kirkcaldy. Memories of Willie Logan Sir, - The article on the 50th anniversary of Loganair brought back memories of founder, Willie Logan. In the early 1960s my parents lived in Magdalen Yard Road, overlooking the Riverside Drive airstrip. Blazing oil drums lining the grass runway often announced the early morning arrival of Willie to inspect work on the Tay Road Bridge. I worked for a spell then at Caird's in Reform Street, and on occasions there would be a hammering on the door before opening time, as he came post-haste from Riverside looking for a quick haircut! John Crichton.6 Northampton Place,Forfar. The road is not to blame Sir, - I refer to an article you ran on the front page quite recently, Shock at speeders on the A9. As an ex-driving examiner and member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I know the A9 having used it for years and have experienced some dreadful acts of overtaking at speeds over the limit. I certainly do not blame the road. All roads are safe without traffic. Neil G. Sinclair.St Martins, Balbeggie,Perthshire. Poor response Sir, - Further to your recent article, Windfarm response is positive, which referred to a proposal to erect a windfarm alongside the A822 tourist route between Crieff and Aberfeldy at a site above Connachan Farm, it may be illuminating to point out that the conclusions were based on only 50 responses a 1% return of the 5,000 survey questionnaires! A totally insignificant response. John Hughes.Crieff. 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. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Business news

Alliance Trust Savings appoints Tim Tookey as chair

June 1 2016

Alliance Trust Savings has appointed Tim Tookey as chair of its board. His appointment follows the decision for Alliance Trust Savings to become a standalone business with its own management and independent board. Alliance Trust Savings is one of two divisions of Dundee-based Alliance Trust, the other being Alliance Trust Investments. Alliance Trust PLC is one of the largest generalist investment trusts by market value listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a net asset value of £2.65 billion. It is presently involved in talks with RIT Capital Partners which submitted a takeover proposal for the Dundee financial services group. Mr Tookey has spent more than 30 years in major financial and professional services organisations. He is currently non-executive director of Nationwide Building Society, having joined their board in June 2015. Prior to that, he spent three years as chief financial officer at Friends Life Group and six years with Lloyds Banking Group, rising to the post of group finance director. He has also held senior finance roles within Prudential PLC and Heath Lambert Group and spent ten years at KPMG where he qualified as a chartered accountant in 1988. Mr Tookey will work with existing non-executive directors, Jonathan Anderson and Gregor Stewart, who joined the board in January. Mr Anderson who is also chair of the audit and risk committees, is a chartered accountant and Group Financial Controller at LV= (Liverpool Victoria). He was previously with Barclays Bank PLC, most recently as chief financial officer of the  corporate bank. Mr Stewart has been involved with Alliance Trust Savings since his appointment to the Alliance Trust PLC Board in December 2014. He spent more than 20 years working at Ernst & Young (now EY), rising to the position of partner before becoming finance director for the insurance division of Lloyds Banking Group PLC. He is also deputy chairman of Alliance Trust PLC and non-executive director of both FNZ and Instrinsic Financial Services Patrick Mill, chief executive of Alliance Trust Savings, said: “This is an exciting stage in the development of Alliance Trust Savings. "The fact that we have been able to attract such high calibre board members illustrates the strength of our strategy and business proposition. "Tim and Jonathan’s extensive experience, alongside Gregor’s expertise and knowledge of Alliance Trust Savings, complements the talent within our executive team and will be invaluable in driving the business forward to deliver a meaningful profit in 2016 and beyond.” Alliance Trust Savings, now in its 30th year, is a leading provider of SIPPs, ISAs and sharedealing accounts. In a separate development , Chris Samuel, a non-executive director of Alliance Trust PLC, has been appointed as a non-executive director of BlackRock Throgmorton Trust PLC .


EU commissioner warns Brexit vote would bring ‘difficult’ negotiations

May 20 2016

A vote for Brexit would see the UK involved in "difficult, lengthy and acrimonious" negotiations, a leading European commissioner has warned. Lord Hill, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for financial stability, financial services and capital markets union, insisted it is "quite simply wrong" to state Britain could have a more advantageous relationship with the rest of the European market if it voted to leave in the June referendum. He also told members of the financial services industry in Edinburgh that exiting the EU would "lead to more uncertainty", branding this "the enemy of investment and growth". The Scottish capital is one of the key centres for the sector outside of London, with Lord Hill stressing that "a month away from the referendum, it's important to remember just how much the UK, and Scotland as part of it, has benefited from being part of the single market". Nearly half of all UK exports go to the EU, he said, with 250,000 jobs in Scotland and three million across the country linked to those. He said: "It's difficult to think of a part of the British economy that's doing better out of the single market than financial services. A quarter of financial services income in the EU is generated in the UK. "Your sector employs over one million people, two-thirds of whom are outside London in places like Edinburgh. Financial services are the UK's most important export and the rest of Europe their first destination. "London has once again been rated the world's most competitive centre. So, I think it's quite hard to argue that we're being 'strangled' by regulation as is sometimes claimed." While he said this success "obviously owes much to Britain's intrinsic strengths and competitiveness" in the financial services sector, Lord Hill also argued it is linked to the UK's membership of the single market. "If Britain is a global financial centre, it's in part because Britain is a gateway to European financial markets, because firms authorised to sell in the UK can also sell their services across the single market while remaining in the UK," he said. If Britain left, he said the relationship with the EU "would be up for negotiation", adding that while different models had been suggested "the truth is that we're none the clearer on what that relationship might look like". Lord Hill added: "As the person responsible in part for drawing up the rules for Europe's financial sector, three things are clear to me. "First, if we vote to leave, the depth of Britain's current relationship with Europe would make negotiating a new one a difficult, lengthy and acrimonious process. "Second, no existing alternative to EU membership would give the UK financial services sector the same level of EU market access while also giving the UK a say over financial services regulation. "Third, if Britain wanted to continue having the same access to the single market, we'd have to pay for that access and obey rules we'd no longer be shaping, and that would be decided with other countries' interests and economic models in mind, rather than our own. "I'm afraid that those who suggest that we could, from the outside, quickly agree a more advantageous trading relationship with the single market than we do today are quite simply wrong. All other options would lead to more uncertainty: the enemy of investment and growth."

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