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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...


New DNA test bid to link World’s End killer Angus Sinclair to Anna Kenny murder

October 27 2015

The latest DNA technology is being used by prosecutors to reinvestigate a 38-year-old murder. Anna Kenny went missing in Glasgow in August 1977 and her body was found nearly two years later in a shallow grave near Skipness in Argyll. The 20-year-old was last seen alive as she left the Hurdy Gurdy bar in Townhead. Angus Sinclair, convicted last year of the double murder of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in October 1977, has been linked by police to a series of other murders in the 1970s - including that of Ms Kenny - but has never faced charges over them. The Crown Office Cold Case Unit is now reviewing evidence kept from the time of Ms Kenny's murder with "cutting-edge DNA 24 technology" which can analyse tiny samples. Groundbreaking forensic science techniques were central to the reopening of the World's End case which ended in the conviction of Sinclair. His DNA was found in three knots which had been preserved as evidence for 37 years. The killer - who has been in jail since the 1980s for a series of rapes and murders - was jailed for at least 37 years over the World's End case - named after the Edinburgh pub where 17-year-olds Christine and Helen spent the evening before they died. After the guilty verdict, former detectives stated their belief that Sinclair was involved in other murders, including the cases of Ms Kenny, Hilda McAuley and Agnes Cooney - all in 1977. A Crown Office spokesman: "Our Cold Case Unit regularly reviews cases to ascertain if there are any new evidential developments, including advances in forensic techniques, which would assist in providing a basis for criminal proceedings. "The murder of Anna Kenny is under reinvestigation. "This work includes a re-examination of the physical evidence, including garments recovered with the body, to establish whether advances in DNA analysis might produce new lines of inquiry. This DNA work includes the new cutting-edge DNA 24 technology." Ms Kenny's aunt, Agnes Byrne, told the Scottish Sun: "I am pleased to hear they might finally be able to catch someone for it. "I just wish it was sooner because Anna's dad, mum and brother are all dead. "She was a lovely girl, and died in a horrific way."


Kezia Dugdale vows to tax the rich

April 16 2016

Scottish Labour would make taxing the rich a key priority in the next parliament, leader Kezia Dugdale has said. Ms Dugdale will focus on her party's plan to use new powers over income tax coming to Holyrood to introduce a 50p rate for top earners during a campaign visit to Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire. She will highlight analysis by think tank IPPR Scotland showing that Labour's tax plans, which also include a 1p increase to the basic rate of income tax, would raise £900 million more than the SNP by 2020/21. The Labour leader said the extra funds would be channelled towards two other key priorities for her party - investing more in education and stopping cuts to public services. Ms Dugdale will campaign with Rutherglen candidate James Kelly and local activists as they launch a new leaflet in partnership with trade unions. Speaking before the visit, she said: "Today I am outlining the three priorities that must define the next Scottish Parliament, and will guide the next Labour Scottish Government. "Those priorities are simple: Tax the rich, invest in education to grow the economy and stop the cuts to public services. "Labour will use the powers to ask the top 1% to pay the most and stop the Scottish Parliament acting as a conveyor belt for Tory austerity. "That's the positive message activists and trade unionists will be making on high streets and doorsteps all across Scotland this weekend. "Labour will set a 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 a year so we can stop the cuts and invest in education." Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will join volunteers campaigning in Bridge of Allan, Stirling, and meet voters following his party's manifesto launch on Friday. The Lib Dems' flagship policy, a "penny for education" involves adding 1p to income tax for those earning more than £21,500 to raise around £500 million each year for education. Mr Rennie said: "The Scottish Liberal Democrats' manifesto is a bold and positive programme for the next five years to make Scotland the best again. "Feedback from the doorsteps is that our uplifting message for a transformational investment in education, leading the charge on boosting mental health services, guaranteeing our civil liberties and protecting the environment is translating into votes. "More Liberal Democrats will deliver positive, liberal change. We're back to our best. Now it's Scotland's turn." Elsewhere on the election trail, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will visit the south of Scotland to highlight her party's proposals to boost business in the area. She will focus on a manifesto pledge to set up a South of Scotland Enterprise, similar to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to grow the economy.

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


Kenny Miller hopes to secure short-term SPL deal

December 16 2012

Scotland striker Kenny Miller has refused to rule out a loan move to the SPL, despite suggestions Vancouver Whitecaps had crushed his hopes of a deal. Hibs and St Mirren are thought to be keen on the 32-year-old, who is training with former club Rangers, following the conclusion of the Major League Soccer season. Miller’s parent club Vancouver are not thought to be keen on their prize asset starring on loan in the Scottish top flight but he says the Canadian outfit have not blocked a move. The striker said: “I do not think there has been any contact from any clubs so at the moment I will stick with Rangers as long as I can and keep fit and focused on returning to Canada.”

Readers' letters

March 27: We should put ‘faith’ in scientific advances and professional healthcare

March 27 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - John Miller's article on Friday, March 23 ('The whole nation united in prayer') suggests the tragic collapse of Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba has "thrust the concept of prayer and its effectiveness on the minds of the British people". I do, of course, wish Mr Muamba a full and speedy recovery, but I think that if this happens then it will be down to his underlying fitness, the timely, professional treatment he received on the pitch, and the care he has been receiving in hospital. Credit should be given to the good men and women who dedicate themselves to helping people who have suffered such unfortunate accidents and to those who determine the best methods of assisting their recovery. Whilst I am sure some people may attain some level of personal comfort from the act of praying, or even that it may help some people to know that they are being prayed for, I am not persuaded prayer is effective in achieving physical outcomes through the intercession of a deity. Mr Millar suggests some historical events have been influenced by prayer, but it is easy to find examples, even quite recently, where prayer has been publicly invoked and the desired result has not been achieved. For example, in Texas last year there were a huge number of wildfires (some might say of biblical proportions) and the Governor of Texas invoked a prayer rally to ask for rain, then prayed, publicly and often. There followed a rainless spring and summer. July was the hottest month in recorded Texas history and most of Texas suffered "extreme or exceptional" drought. Later in office he asked 30,000 evangelical followers to pray for an economic recovery. This didn't happen either. Perhaps Governor Perry wasn't doing it right, or perhaps there is a much simpler explanation. I suggest we should put our "faith" in scientific advances and professional healthcare. Norry Passway.29 Albany Road,Dundee. Choose prayer over CPR? Sir, - How the likes of John Miller's article commands column space is beyond me. No one should be in any doubt that the reason a young footballer is showing encouraging signs of recovery is down in part (a very large part) to the skill, knowledge and professionalism of the medical professionals who have attended him since those horrific scenes the other evening. To suggest any thing else is, frankly, offensive. Imagine if those attending in the very first moments of his collapse had chosen prayer over CPR! I doubt if Mr Miller would be enlightening us then on the power of prayer. N. Austin.10 Shepherd Lane,Arbroath. Real miracle of Dunkirk Sir, - I would like to make a few comments concerning John Miller's article on prayer. I certainly have no wish to make light of belief in prayer, but the miracle of Dunkirk was most definitely down to the men of 51st Highland Division, who held back the German forces. Many paid with their lives and many more were marched into prison camps to be starved and worked to death. That any men survived was a miracle. And to think they are almost airbrushed from history each time the British public are reminded of the miracle of Dunkirk. Margaret Borland.57 Rodd Road,Dundee. A question of principle Sir, - The Rev John Cameron targets his ironic barbs superbly (Letters, March 24), but the 'granny tax' raises a separate question of principle. Why, purely due to our age, should pensioners like me enjoy a higher tax-free allowance than the working population, many with young families and on average incomes little more than mine? Churchill's original justification for age allowances in 1925 surely no longer exists. Pensioners do not pay NIC (effectively another income tax of about 10%), or their previous pension contributions, or travel-to-work costs; and many will no longer be in the 40% tax bracket. The combined effect for those in some final-salary schemes can leave them with net disposable incomes almost unchanged from their employment. Many pensioners much wealthier than he or I can limit their taxable income to £25,000 for example if they have substantial ISAs to draw down, while others choose to work. Why should these groups benefit even more than younger workers? The coalition should have announced in June 2010 an early move to incorporating tax-free cash benefits like the fuel allowance into the taxable state pension; linking or even equalising that pension and a single tax-free allowance with the minimum wage for 18-20 year-olds (£10,000); amalgamating income tax and NIC; and improving the progressive tax structure. John Birkett.12 Horseleys Park,St Andrews. Bridging gap in knowledge Sir, - Reading Ken Guild's remarks about "another bridge falling down" I presumed he was referring to the Tay Bridge disaster, implying it was caused by the use of Scottish steel. In that case, may I inform him that the bridge was constructed from cast and wrought iron rather than from steel? The first major bridge to be constructed from Scottish (and Welsh) steel was the Forth Bridge which, as far as I know, is still standing. (Mrs) JE McFarlane.41 Highfield Place,Birkhill. Closures will be a nightmare Sir, - On the subject of public toilet closures in Fife, my daughter took my granddaughter to the West Sands play area in St Andrews recently. Soon after they arrived, my granddaughter needed the toilet. The toilets there were closed. My daughter had to drive up to South Street in order to use the toilet there. It cost her £1 to park and 30p to use the toilet. Luckily she found a parking place, but that might not be possible in the holiday season. Public toilet closures will be a nightmare for the elderly and people with children. Mrs Margaret Duncan.32 Pickford Crescent,Cellardyke. 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.


Dundee doctor faces being struck off after putting patients at risk

March 21 2013

A Dundee doctor faces being struck off after the profession’s regulatory body ruled he was not capable of rectifying his deficiencies and presented a risk to patients. The Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service found more than 20 allegations proved against Dennis Miller while he was employed by NHS Tayside at the Ardler Practice in Dundee for 21 years until 2011. Most of the charges, which he admitted, involved the prescription of drugs for a drug addict at the Turnberry Avenue practice. These included prescribing nitrazepam without the knowledge or agreement of the Drug Problem Service, failing to challenge the patient about his over-use of the medication or encouraging him to reduce his dosage. He also gave him the psychiatric medication lithium without specialist advice or tests and the heroin substitute methadone when it was already being prescribed to him. As a result Dr Miller’s professional competence was unacceptable as he had not provided good medical care or maintained good practice. In a judgment issued after a hearing in Manchester, the service’s fitness to practice panel said they were concerned about the range of Dr Miller’s practice. Some of them had the potential to put patient safety at risk, and he demonstrated an unwillingness to work with colleagues. This was evidenced by his failure to participate in practice meetings, significant event analysis, audits or staff training. Dr Miller had no formal training in drug dependence, despite running a methadone clinic. He did not attend the hearing, but claimed he could address his deficiencies and hoped he still had something to offer. “The panel has no objective evidence to demonstrate that any remediation of the failings identified both in terms of Dr Miller’s misconduct and/or his deficient professional performance has taken place,” the judgment stated. Despite receiving a warning from the General Medical Council in 2009, Dr Miller’s prescribing practice in relation to the patient “was contrary to the warning and fell short of acceptable standards”. The panel ruled his fitness to practice was impaired by his misconduct and deficient professional performance. They will now consider the sanction to be imposed. NHS Tayside shut down Dr Miller’s Ardler practice in 2011 and transferred the 1,700 patients to other surgeries after a lengthy investigation into his behaviour.

Perth & Kinross

Guest house owner says drunks and addicts putting Perth’s reputation at risk

October 21 2010

Drunks and drug users in the centre of Perth are discouraging visitors from venturing outside their accommodation, according to a local guest house owner. George Tennie told The Courier his guests have voiced concerns about walking through Perth at night, as they face intimidation from addicts. The proprietor of the Heidl Guest House on York Place has even advised people to take a longer route back to his establishment, to help them avoid certain areas. "I tell them to come back via the ring road, rather than walk through the city centre," he said. "The main concern that people have is that they sometimes feel threatened by down-and-outs begging them for money and cigarettes. I've come across this myself and I feel that you can't go anywhere in town any more without someone coming up and asking for something. My guests are becoming really wary of this now." A regular visitor to Mr Tennie's guest house is a freelance writer, who submits articles on places to visit and restaurants to in-flight magazines. He continued, "When this guy stayed here recently, I asked him how he felt coming back to Perth, as it was the first time he'd been here in a few years. "He said that Perth is now 'second division' because it's really run-down and that he thought it was a shame. "The general reaction from guests these days is that this is a 'lovely city, but...' and there are always certain reservations." In a bid to stop Perth's reputation being left in tatters, Mr Tennie contacted a local councillor, but was disappointed by the response. He claimed the councillor wasn't "the slightest bit interested," although they did invite him to find other guest house owners with similar concerns. "I managed to round up about 10 more people, but it didn't come to much," said Mr Tennie. "Although we were offered a 30-minute meeting, it was so early in the morning that we would still have been clearing up from breakfast, so it was no good. "We haven't been able to rearrange it yet, but we could tell by the general response that they weren't interested." He also made criticisms of Councillor Ian Miller's response to shocking images in The Courier this week showing two people passed out near a popular beauty spot in Perth. The leader of Perth and Kinross Council dismissed claims by a resident that Perth's reputation was being "shattered" branding them "utter nonsense." Mr Tennie accused Mr Miller of "burying his head in the sand" and insisted councillors need to "face reality." When the issue was highlighted in a Courier article, a representative of Tayside Police readily admitted the existence of the problem. Inspector Jim Smith said, "We are aware of areas in Perth that known alcoholics and drug abusers frequent and we give these areas regular attention. "However, we also rely on members of the public getting in touch with us to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour. "Anyone who has concerns about individuals who may be involved in anti-social behaviour of any kind should get in touch with us on 0300 111 2222."

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.


The Weekend countdown starts here

August 25 2016

Every dog has its day and stepping into the spotlight this week is our cover girl Ruby, a Staffordshire bull terrier from Fife, who - along with her owner Penny Crowe - is blazing a trail though the obedience world and doing much to restore the reputation of this much maligned breed. Elsewhere in this Saturday's 48-page magazine Gayle Ritchie visits therapeutic garden projects across Courier Country to hear the stories of people whose lives are being transformed by the healing power of horticulture. She also spends a day with the remarkable volunteers at a Dundee scheme which provides clothes, toys and household items to families in need of a leg up. Our outdoors section includes a hilltop walk through a wildlife haven in Perthshire and a tramp across the moors to a rocky paradise high in the Angus Glens, while home comforts are catered for in our baking column, which features a simple yet stunning teapot cake - just the thing as you sit down to watch the next episode of the Great British Bake Off. Restaurant reviewer Kerry Moores samples a little corner of France in the heart of Dundee, style queen Christina Miller shines a light on the latest styles on the street and columnists Fiona Armstrong and Rab McNeil share some of their ups and downs from the past seven days. And what do Sting, Madonna and the Duke of Argyll have in common? They've all bought paintings by John Lowry Morrison. The hugely popular Scottish artist, who recently designed a sculpture for the Oor Wullie bucket trail, steps out from behind the canvas to answer our Getting to Know you posers this week. Throw in a seven-day TV guide and the best in food, fashion, books, music and travel and it's not just the Weekend we've got covered.