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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

Angus & The Mearns

Row over charity donations made by trust in charge of Carnoustie golf links

July 1 2016

Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee has dismissed claims that it doesn’t contribute enough of its profits to charity. The group has given away more than £35,000 to community groups in the town since becoming a charitable trust 18 months ago. However, local councillor Brian Boyd said he had expected more money to have been distributed in the community based on the projected tax savings charitable status brought. He said there was an expectation that CGLMC would give away half of the tax savings since becoming a charity, which by his calculations would net the community at least £50,000 a year. CGLMC has hit back, stating that Mr Boyd’s assumptions are wrong and that it actually expects to “comfortably” give away more than half of its tax savings to local groups. Carnoustie links are a public asset, operated on behalf of Angus Council by CGLMC. When councillors met in private in 2012 to give consent to CGLMC pursuing charitable status, a condition was that 50% of the tax savings be donated to local community purposes. A follow-up meeting in October 2014 stated that, after legal advice had been taken, the charity pledge could not be a binding commitment as this could be contrary to the directors’ primary duty to act in the best interests of the company at all times. However, a sub-committee was set up to consider local charities worthy of support who apply for grants. Mr Boyd, who has been publically against CGLMC’s plans to extend the clubhouse at the historic links, described the amount that had been given to charity as “disgraceful”. He said: “Looking at publicly available accounts for the three full years before CGLMC became a charity, its turnover was over £10m, surpluses before tax of over £1.1m and, most importantly, tax paid was £471,000. “This means tax savings for 18 months since then should be around £235,000 yet a mere £35,580 has been distributed. “Quite frankly this is disgraceful. Our charity shops in the High Street donate more than this. “Moving forward the trust has budgeted for handouts of a mere £30,000 per annum.” However, CGLMC general manager Graeme Duncan said Mr Boyd had made a “fundamental error” with his assumption on the amount of corporation tax that had been saved in the last 18 months. He said: “The calculation provided to us by our auditor is that we will have saved £105,000 in corporation tax during this period. “We made, for various reasons, a much smaller surplus than usual in 2015/16 which will have contributed to this being the figure, as well as there being lower tax rates now. “As we will be making another set of community donations in November this year, we expect to comfortably contribute more than 50% of the savings to local community groups.” Mr Duncan added that the group were committed to giving charitable donations to community groups in Carnoustie. He said: “The trustees have approved that a minimum amount of £30,000 will always be available each year for charitable donations, regardless of whether any tax savings have been achieved. “The actual amount donated depends on the applications received, but there is no upper limit. “The trustees will always endeavour to contribute at least half of the tax saving each year, but this is dependent on there being enough suitable applications to reach that amount. “Every application so far which has met the criteria has received a grant; some in part, but mostly the amount requested has been met in full.”

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

Perth & Kinross

New face at the helm of the Gannochy Trust

March 2 2013

THE PERTH-BASED Gannochy Trust has announced the appointment of Carol Downie as the charitable trust’s new chief executive. Carol currently works as the chief executive of Youth Scotland, which is a network of youth clubs and groups that work across Scotland. It is a responsibility that she has held for the past 15 years and in that time she has enabled the organisation to go through a considerable period of growth and development. In addition she is currently chairman of the National Voluntary Youth Work Organisations Scotland. Ms Downie is also a board member of UK Youth, Young Scot and the Children’s Parliament. Her particular skills lie in understanding the issues that affect young people, the utilisation of volunteers, fundraising and strategic management. During her career she has been involved in a range of local and national committees includingexperience as a community councillor, as trustee of the Voluntary Action Fund, and as a trustee of YouthLink Scotland, the national youth agency. Her personal interestsand hobbies include travelling, cycling and skiing. “The Gannochy Trust is very much looking forward to her joining the trust at the end of April,” said the organisation, which was founded AK Bell. The new chief executive’s appointment comes at a significant time as the trust celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.


Fife Animal Park charity trust slammed by watchdog

June 25 2014

A charitable trust set up to promote animal conservation through the now-closed Fife Animal Park has been criticised by the industry watchdog which found the board of trustees “not fit for purpose”. The charity regulator ruled the overall governance of the charity Fife Animal Trust was “poor” and trustees were guilty of misconduct after trying to sell the charity’s assets including the animals it looked after. It concluded the charity had not been run independently from the commercial business owned by one of the trustees and the charity’s manager also operated from the animal park. Its investigation also concluded the board “lacked the necessary skills and experience to run the charity properly” and financial record keeping was “very poor”. However, trustees will not be banned from becoming trustees again, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has said. OSCR opened an inquiry into the charity after it became aware the charity’s assets, including the animals, were included in the sale schedule for Fife Animal Park, a commercial business which belonged to one of the charity’s trustees. The regulator issued the charity with a direction notice preventing it from selling its charity assets while it carried out an investigation. Fife Animal Trust was set up in October 2011 and the charity’s manager and one of the three trustees owned the land the charity operated from, as well as a commercial business operating from the same place. The inquiry report, which described the board of trustees as “not fit for purpose”, highlights poor financial record keeping by the charity and a failure to manage conflicts of interest. Fife Council took possession of the charity’s animals in February under Section 32 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. All of the animals have now been rehomed.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus war hero call for tougher measures to weed out “pseudo charities” failing veterans

November 3 2017

A former soldier has called for tougher measures to weed out “pseudo-charities” which could be failing veterans. Grant Allen, who served with 7 (Sphinx) Battery Royal Artillery at RM Condor, said it was “deeply worrying” that some organisations were spending so little of their income on good causes. People in Angus have raised concerns after receiving donation bags at home for a military charity which is being investigated by the Charity Commission. Forces Support responded by saying it had "no agreement in place" with the textile company manufacturing the bags and anyone who gets a bag delivered to their door "should not give to this company" as they do not act on the charity’s behalf. Mr Allen, who was wounded in combat and now raises money for Help for Heroes, said: “The number of organisations springing up with charitable status, but whose expenditure on good work is dwarfed by fundraising costs, staff salaries and shops is deeply worrying. “I’d like to see a much tougher regime in place that weeds out what some might call pseudo-charities, because the fact is that some of these outfits can put people off from donating to the bona fide charities that make such a positive difference to service personnel, veterans and their families.” The Charity Commission has issued a regulatory alert to 187 recently-registered military charities after a review found most had weaknesses in safeguarding and fundraising. The regulator decided to review military charities after a number of media reports about aggressive fundraising techniques. The review found there has been a “loss of trust in the charity sector as a whole, caused mainly by misconduct by trustees and management in a few”. Arbroath Independent councillor David Fairweather said: “I was approached by a constituent who is an army veteran and had received several donation bags at home for a military charity. “He was suspicious, and had decided to look into them further." Mr Fairweather said the man found that the organisation, Forces Support, was under investigation by the Charities Commission after it was revealed that just 15% of its 2015-16 income of £2.7 million was spent on charitable activities, while the chief executive enjoyed a 40% pay increase on the previous year. “Although there is no suggestion of wrongdoing, many people, myself included, would question why so much is spent on fundraising, shops and salaries, and so little is making its way to helping the families of fallen troops," he added. “A £5 donation would see just 75p used to support those who need it. “Angus has an outstanding military tradition, and of course people want to help, so I would urge those considering making a donation to check the charity before doing so. “There are some excellent organisations doing amazing work such as Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion, PoppyScotland and the Royal Marines Association to name just a few, whose finances are completely transparent, and their projects make a real difference. “I think this is especially important as we approach Armistice Day, and prepare to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat zones across the world.” Forces Support which has outlets in Scotland has been under investigation over its expenditure. The Charity Commission acted following a complaint from a war veteran that most of the money it raised was spent on running dozens of shops and employing staff. No evidence of any wrongdoing has been found. However, according to its latest accounts, FSL had an  income of £2.7m in 2015-16 and spent £2.5m. Only 15% of the expenditure went on “charitable activities” — a total of £375,308 — with £2.12m spent on fundraising. Over the same period, Bill McCance, the charity’s chief executive, was paid £71,400, an increase of almost 40% compared with his remuneration in 2014-15.

Great Ormond Street Hospital considering position on Presidents Club donations

February 19 2018

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is in talks about whether or not to return funds donated by the controversial Presidents Club trust.The children’s charity said last month it would return previous donations from the trust following a men-only dinner at The Dorchester hotel on January 18, which gained notoriety following claims female hostesses had been groped.The hospital confirmed on Monday it is “in discussions” with the Charity Commission and will consider its position at a trustee meeting in March. An undercover investigation by the Financial Times lifted the lid on the exclusive Presidents Club event, alleging female staff were subject to sexual harassment and inappropriate advances by guests.The report sparked a furious backlash and several high-profile charities refused to take any donations from the trust.A spokeswoman for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Children’s Charity described reports about the event as shocking and on January 24 said it is “returning previous donations and will no longer accept gifts from the Presidents Club Charitable Trust”.But in a statement on Monday, a GOSH Children’s Charity spokeswoman said: “Guiding all our thinking is our aim to maximise the support to the hospital and the families it cares for.“We can confirm that we are in discussions with the Charity Commission and are scheduled to meet them later this week.“Following this meeting and taking into account the latest developments with the Presidents Club Charitable Trust and feedback from our supporters, we will consider our position at our March Trustee meeting.”The Evelina London Children’s hospital, which also said on January 24 that it would return all previous donations from the Presidents Club, confirmed it is in contact with the Charity Commission about their “next steps”. During the controversial dinner, businessman Richard Caring, owner of London restaurants The Ivy and Scott’s, bid £400,000 to place his name on a new high dependency unit at the Evelina, the Financial Times reported.On Monday, a spokeswoman from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the charity for Evelina London Children’s hospitals, said: “We have written to the Charity Commission about our proposed course of action and are currently in dialogue with them about our next steps.” In January, the Evelina said: “We are very alarmed by the allegations about the behaviour of some of those attending the Presidents Club fundraising dinner.“This is not the kind of event we would wish to be associated with and we will therefore be declining funding from it and returning all previous donations from the Presidents Club.”University College London Hospitals Charity said it has already returned a one-off £5,000 donation it received in 2015.The Charity Commission said it has been in contact with “a number of charities” about their donations. A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity have asked the Commission for advice and guidance on returning previous donations and that we are in discussion with the trustees about their decision. “It is up to a charity’s trustees to make the difficult decision as to whether they want to return a donation. “If they wish to do so they should seek advice from the Commission about whether our authorisation is required in their specific case.“As part of our case we will be working to ensure that the Presidents Club Charitable Trust is properly wound up and that any remaining or returned funds are dealt with correctly.”

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.


Clay-pigeon shoot raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity

August 24 2016

A group of shooting enthusiasts have raised more than £270,000 for charity at an event in Auchterhouse. Over 380 participants, organised in to 42 shooting teams, raised the money at the annual charity clay pigeon shoot at Auchterhouse Country Sports. The money will be split evenly between Maggie's Centre in Dundee and JDRF, the type 1 diabetes centre, in Aberdeen. Guests enjoyed cooking demonstrations by chef Tony Singh, who was assisted by comedian Fred MacAulay, and were joined by Scottish Rugby players Alistair Kellock and Johnny Gray. Organised by the Shoot Charitable Trust, the annual event has raised more than £2.75 million over the past 15 years. Gerard Eadie, a trustee of Shoot Charitable Trust, said the event helped to raise funds for two "extremely important" charities. He said: "This was a fantastic day. To raise so much money is a measure of the spirit of generosity and friendship that The Shoot generates. We have a lot of fun but raising money is at the heart of what we do.” “Both JDRF and Maggie’s are helping change and improve people’s lives in very different ways. "JDRF’s dedicated research will help find the cure to type 1 diabetes and potentially unlock other auto-immune conditions such as MS and Crohn’s; while through its services Maggie’s finds a way to give those living with cancer and their families a calm and more positive perspective on their lives. "Both are extremely important to thousands of families here in Scotland, offering hope and comfort.” Lydia Warrilow, regional fundraising manager for JDRF, said: "JDRF is very grateful to all who made the Auchterhouse Shoot such a great success, from those who helped organise and run the event, to the sponsors and all the participants and guests. "We're humbled by the generosity of each and every donation. The amount raised is truly fantastic and will go towards supporting vital research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes."