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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...


Council-run service to help elderly improves after criticism

September 19 2013

A council-run community alarm service has cut the time it takes to reach elderly and vulnerable people after being branded weak by inspectors. The Social Care Response Service takes an average of 560 calls per week. Its mobile units react to alerts, such as users who have fallen or have suffered a serious problem. In March it was severely criticised by the Care Inspectorate for sometimes taking than six times as long as it should to reach people. Inspectors saw data that showed more than half of responses to calls took longer than the target. Staff complained of having low morale and blamed shortages for the failings. The council promised to take action and social work director Jennifer Tocher has now claimed success. She said: “The length of time for a response had increased due to the increase in the number of calls to the service, and the increase in the complexity of need of the service users, resulting in an increase in the time spent with each service user who calls for assistance. “Improving response times has been a main objective in the changes that have been made to the service.” At the time of the Care Inspectorate’s visit, the team had five vacant posts which have now been filled. An additional seven sessional staff members, who are available to cover for annual leave and sickness absence, have also been recruited. Ms Tocher’s report compares the service’s response times on two sample days before and after the changes in staffing. On November 29 last year there were 81 calls received by the control room which then required a visit from the staff. In 12 cases it took over an hour to reach the person needing aid. One August 18 this year there were 78 calls that staff needed to respond to, with the longest wait for any of them being 40 minutes. Over the period average response times dropped from 31 minutes to 25 minutes. The service now has five vehicles available to deal with calls overnight and three during the day. Ms Tocher said: “By implementing the actions detailed, there has been a significant improvement to the Social Care Response Service and this has been demonstrated by the improvements to the response times for users and a high level of satisfaction with the service. “It is expected that this will result in an improvement to the Care Inspectorate grades at the time of the next inspection.” A survey of 80 users saw 60% of them rate the service as excellent or very good, with less than 3% describing it as adequate or worse. A review of the service is being planned to see if any other improvements are needed. Councillor Ken Lynn, convener of the social work and health committee, said he was pleased with the response to the Care Inspectorate’s findings. “A survey has been carried out to gauge the views of service users and continuing focus groups will allow us to get further feedback,” he added. “I want to ensure that their opinions can be used to help ensure further improvements. We can see from this report that waiting times are falling. I am keen to see this trend continuing.”


Report calls for Dundee foster service to keep improving

October 21 2014

The fostering service in Dundee has been told by Care Inspectors that more must be done to bring the service up to the required standard. Although the service was graded as “adequate” in all three categories in a Care Inspectorate report in June, two requirements were made of the service by the inspectors. That followed a damning Care Inspectorate report the previous month, which graded the service’s quality of care and support “unsatisfactory,” its quality of staffing “weak” and its quality of management and leadership “unsatisfactory”, and made five requirements of the service. In the latter report, the city council-run service was told it “must ensure that foster carers have the necessary skills and attitudes to ensure that children in their care are treated withdignity” and that “foster carers have the necessary skills to care for children who have been the subject of abuse and neglect”. The city council’s director of social work, Jennifer Tocher, now says the service has made “significant progress”since but accepts more is needed to be done to fully complete the action plan put in place after the initial report. Inspectors swooped on the service in April following two complaints, one by a foster carer in May 2013 and a second one by a service user to the family placement team and the Care Inspectorate in January this year. The resulting report in May concluded that the service had failed to meet national standards by failing to hold a review within reasonable time; and a complaint had not been responded to within the required timescales. As such the unsatisfactory and weak gradings were awarded. An action plan was put in place by the council to address the five requirements but two of those remain to be fulfilled, the follow-up report by inspectors revealed. Ms Tocher’s report is due to go before councillors on the social work committee on Monday.


New Kemback Street centre consultation could cost £10,000

March 16 2013

Hiring a professional to restage a botched council consultation could cost taxpayers up to £10,000, it has emerged. The social work department wants to close the Kemback Street Adult Resource Centre for disabled adults but the Care Commission upheld a complaint about its first attempt to gauge the views of users and their families. Later this month councillors will be asked to approve a second effort but this will involve paying an independent consultant to oversee the process. In a report, social work director Jenni Tocher says: “The reason for involving an independent consultant will be to validate that the consultation has been carried out properly.” The exact cost of hiring the person is not yet known but the director says this cost could amount to as much as £10,000. Talks with service users and their families will be held in groups and individually. “It is envisaged that the consultant’s role would be to validate the process being followed, as opposed to engage in the detail of discussion about individuals’ circumstances,” Ms Tocher said. The discussions will start in May, with around eight group sessions being used to explore the changes in social work services, of which the proposed closure of Kemback Street forms a part. The individual talks will help service users and families discuss their own needs. In the wake of the Care Commission’s findings, communication aids will be made available to any of the disabled people who need them to express their opinions. Independent advocacy support will also be offered where required. Ms Tocher’s report goes on to say: “It should be noted that some service users have already chosen to stop attending Kemback Street adult resource centre. They will be advised of the consultation and given the opportunity to take part in it if they so wish. “But where individuals have already made decisions about future alternative supports and are anxious to progress these, it is anticipated that they will continue to be supported to effect this change. However, this will be within the context of the further consultation. “It is crucial over the coming months that all service users and their families are supported in decision making specific to their own circumstances and wishes. “The director of social work will also make clear to all consultees that while she has recommended that Kemback Street adult resource centre be closed, the final decision will be taken by the social work and health committee in due course. “This will be taking account of the representations received during the consultation exercise.” Committee convener Ken Lynn said: “I want to ensure that this consultation gathers the views of service users and their carers. The care that adults with learning disabilities get in the city must be more personalised to the needs of the individual and have more flexibility built in. “This can mean more support in the community or continued day care support. If people have more choice to build the care package they need, that will improve their quality of life and that is the right direction for us to go.”

Perth & Kinross

Road ban for bus driver who pinned woman to wall in Perthshire

September 18 2017

A bus driver left a pedestrian with life-threatening injuries after slamming his double-decker bus into her as he tried to negotiate a Perthshire road. Fraser McGregor was attempting to mount a pavement to manoeuvre around parked cars when the vehicle lurched forward and collided with Lena Tocher. The incident in Crieff’s Broich Road left Ms Tocher with a fractured femur, a broken pelvis and injuries to her chest. She was treated by a trauma team at the scene before being rushed to Ninewells hospital. At one point during her ordeal, the then-44-year-old’s heart stopped beating. At Perth Sheriff Court on Monday, McGregor, who was sacked by Stagecoach following the crash, was disqualified from driving for six months. Depute fiscal Sue Ruta said the accident happened shortly before 4pm on November 6 2015. “The accused turned the bus towards the nearside and tried to mount the pavement to allow oncoming traffic more space to pass," she said. "Lena Tocher saw the bus and stopped walking. “As the accused continued driving slowly the bus suddenly veered to the left and collided with the building wall where Lena Tocher was standing. She was pinned between the bus and the wall. “After a few seconds the accused reversed the bus in order to free Lena Tocher, who then fell to the ground." Police crash investigators later found that McGregor had not mounted the pavement, but had driven along with the wheel against the kerb and his steering at full lock. When the wheel came to a section of dropped kerb the bus lurched on to the pavement towards Ms Tocher. Advocate Stephen Hughes, defending, said McGregor, 26, had lost his job with Stagecoach and had worked as a delivery driver and a taxi driver since the crash. He said: “The incident was pretty much momentary – the mounting of the pavement appears to have been caused by pressure of the bus tyre on the kerb.” Sheriff Lindsay Foulis noted that while there was a specific offence of causing serious injury through dangerous driving, there was no equivalent in relation to dangerous driving. McGregor, of Glencarse, admitted causing serious injury to Ms Tocher, 45, by driving carelessly and causing the bus to mount the pavement on Crieff’s Broich Road. In addition to the driving ban, McGregor must resit his driving test before being allowed behind the wheel again. He was also fined £800. Ms Tocher previously revealed that being overweight may have saved her life. She told The Courier: "I was 19 stone when it happened and had just been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid two days before,” she said. “I was told if it wasn’t for my weight I wouldn’t be here.” She added: "I was going in and out of consciousness and remember lots of people around me. I remember coughing and seeing blood and asking whose blood is that.”

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

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.

Perth & Kinross

Sheriff says it is “urgent” 2015 Crieff bus crash trial gets under way soon

August 15 2017

A bus driver accused of causing significant injury to a woman in Crieff by driving dangerously has failed in a fourth bid to have his trial abandoned. Witnesses were again present at Perth Sheriff Court as Fraser McGregor sat in the dock to plead, unsuccessfully, for more time to prepare his defence. He denies driving dangerously in Crieff’s Broich Road in an incident that saw Lena Tocher pinned against a wall by the 26-year-old’s bus after it mounted a pavement. The accident happened almost two years ago, on November 6, 2015, while the court case has been running for 16 months. Ms Tocher was taken to intensive care following the crash and placed in an induced coma as medics treated her for severe crush injuries. At the time, those injuries were said to include lacerated kidneys and liver, a broken femur, shattered pelvis, a bruised and bleeding heart and broken bones in her back. The case against McGregor has called on numerous occasions – and been repeatedly delayed as his legal team has sought new information. For some months they have wanted a fresh report from a crash scene investigator after expressing dissatisfaction with a first report, obtained at public expense. During his latest appearance, Sheriff Gillian Wade expressed disquiet at the lack of progress being made. She told McGregor the case would recall on Wednesday to allow lawyers to make one final effort to secure the information they believe is missing from the defence report. The sheriff said she was unlikely to be willing to abandon the case again given the time that had passed since the accident and the disruption caused to witnesses, including Ms Tocher. Sheriff Wade added: “This is a case that has some history as the events behind it date back to November 2015. “It is a very serious matter for the lady involved and her family, not to mention the accused himself. “This is an important and sensitive matter and urgent steps must be taken to bring this to trial. “It is unlikely the court will allow a further adjournment.” McGregor, 26, of Glencarse, denies a charge alleging that he caused serious injury to Lena Tocher by driving a bus dangerously, causing the vehicle to mount the pavement and collide with her and pin her against a wall to her serious injury. The court heard that CCTV footage taken from the bus would be available to view during the trial.

Business news

Tourism chiefs look to give Dundee major new conference venue

July 24 2013

Tourism chiefs want to build a new 1,000-seat conference centre in Dundee to capitalise on the lucrative business meetings market. Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau has launched a 10-year action plan to bolster the sector locally, and a key to its long-term vision was the establishment of a new state-of-the-art conference venue. The bureau said the current average attendance at seminars in the area was 300, but the city was missing out on hosting larger conferences due to a lack of plenary and exhibition facilities and wider breakout space. The organisation said in order to achieve continued growth a new 1,000-capacity venue was required. Such a facility would give Dundee a chance to compete with Scotland’s other major conference venues in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen for large-scale events. The DACB strategy said the establishment of the V&A design museum at the waterfront, along with other redevelopment works, would enhance the city’s profile and attractiveness as a conference venue. “The V&A will play a key role in securing future bids and, as a result, encourage and continue to attract new investment in meetings venues and accommodation,” the report states. “The V&A at Dundee will positively influence future bids and inward investment and will play an enormous role in supporting business tourism by hosting small meetings, receptions and dinners etcetera. “It is important to note, however, that it is not a conference centre equipped with the required capacity and functionality to host conferences of 500+, which is much needed in Dundee.” More than 230,000 delegates travelled to Dundee and Angus last year to attend conferences with a direct economic impact of £55 million. For Scotland as a whole, it is estimated the business tourism sector generated direct revenues of £826m last year. DACB said it expected the implementation of key recommendations of its action plan would help safeguard or create up to 700 jobs over the next five years. The timescale for the convention centre plan, which would likely need public and private sector investment to get off the ground, is anything up to 10 years. DACB business tourism manager Karen Tocher said: “Building a successful meetings sector will create jobs and income for the destination. “To make the most of the benefits that this can bring, it’s essential that new venues and facilities are developed within the Dundee and Angus area. “Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau has two strategic objectives: to enable growth in the volume and value of business tourism, and to enhance the competitiveness of Dundee and Angus as a business tourism destination. “Our new strategy lays out how we will achieve this by promoting the destination to the UK and international meetings market. “By supporting the universities, institutions and research establishments and improving the facilities and services in the area we can help to create and submit bids to secure meetings from across the globe.” Ms Tocher said having the right facilities in place and ensuring cross-industry collaboration was vital for long-term success. “Through our strategy we aim to achieve continued growth by encouraging the development of a conference centre that could host 500-1,000 delegates, and by working closely with city businesses and universities to target key markets. “By doing this it will allow us to tap-in to the additional 23% of the total global market which Dundee cannot regularly cater for with its current facilities. “Some of the most successful conference cities across the world have a shared vision between venues, hotels and public agencies. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Vienna, Boston and Singapore have huge success in the business tourism industry, and the success of these cities is due to their clear objectives. “While they are larger cities than Dundee, we can certainly learn from their methods. “With this framework in place, business tourism in Dundee and Angus is expected to increase by 10% per year over the next five years, which in turn will help to create and secure 700 additional full time jobs in the area.”

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