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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...


Stability predicted for Tayside housing market

January 12 2011

A Tayside property expert has predicted that house prices will remain relatively stable during the course of this year. Giving his predictions for 2011, Lindsay Darroch, partner and head of property services at Blackadder's, which has offices in Arbroath, Dundee and Forfar, said he is expecting this year to start slowly but to end on an upbeat note. Mr Darroch has also urged both the Scottish and UK governments to take all steps possible to bolster the housing market for 2011. He said, "The start of 2010 was anticipated to carry on a continuing upward trajectory just as 2009 had finished. "This was slightly slowed down by the bad weather at the tail end of December 2009 and the start of January 2010, causing a slight dip in transactions in February. "In general, between February and September, houses coming on to the market exceeded expectations and were on average about 20% higher than 2009." He added, "The figures for Dundee and Angus were slightly stronger and kept above line figures until November. "The early snow at the end of November certainly curtailed market activity and this, linked with a number of negative press articles and a general feeling of economic uncertainty, caused the figures to dip further with market activity for December being about 20% less than December 2009. "My feeling is that house prices did not show any remarkable drop and were relatively stable for 2010, however the caveat to this being that if you bought in 2007 the market has not yet reached those levels and also sellers in general are becoming more realistic regarding an achievable price for the property." Mr Darroch believes the first three months of 2011 will see property activity levels below those of 2010 due to a lingering Christmas hangover, continuing economic uncertainty and the government debt reduction plans starting to have an impact including the VAT increase, the rise in fuel costs, the National Insurance increase and the public sector spending cuts. However, he said he anticipates a slight pick-up in the second quarter with 2010 levels being reached by the end of June. Mr Darroch said, "Thereafter I would be expecting a strong last six months with 2011 ending on an upbeat note. "Again, I would anticipate prices remaining relatively stable during the course of 2011." Mr Darroch's wishes for 2011 include:Home reports being abolished or at least temporarily suspended. Tax breaks for property investors through pension legislation.

Perth & Kinross

Man ends behind bars after rage over TV channel being changed

July 2 2015

A man spent two nights behind bars after flying into a rage and hurling abuse at his partner because she changed the TV channel. David Darroch lost his temper when his partner of 12 years picked up the remote control and switched channels during a festive karaoke party. Darroch was arrested and locked up for two nights. He had his sentence deferred for good behaviour at Perth Sheriff Court. Depute fiscal Jim Eodanable said: “The couple had been in a relationship for 12 years. There was a discussion about changing channel on the TV and the accused reacted very badly.” The 45-year-old spent 48 hours in police cells and subsequently admitted shouting, swearing and causing fear and alarm by acting aggressively on December 27 last year. The court was told Darroch was “infuriated” when his partner changed channels on the TV. Details of what he was watching were not given to the court. The court was told that a family event was taking place over the festive period which involved people taking part in a karaoke sing-a-long and drinking alcohol. Darroch, who was said to suffer from anger management problems, was seen pouring himself a whisky and was asked by his partner not to drink any more. He went to the kitchen and returned in a mood, the court heard. While he was out, his partner had changed the channel and when he noticed he launched into a foul-mouthed rant. Solicitor John McLaughlin said the couple were back together and Darroch’s anger issues had been sparked by a serious accident several years ago. “His partner has indicated she has lived with this difficulty in the years since the accident,” Mr McLaughlin said. “It is exacerbated by alcohol consumption.” Sheriff Fiona Tait deferred sentence until next month for his GP to provide a medical report.

Angus & The Mearns

Property expert ‘cautiously optimistic’ on house prices

January 26 2015

A Tayside property expert is “cautiously optimistic” property prices will increase this year. Lindsay Darroch, head of property at Blackadders, is predicting there will be a 10% increase in market activity this year with house prices rising by around five per cent. He is also predicting more property investors will enter the Tayside market in 2015. “I believe that there will be an increased improvement in 2015, although my mantra is cautiously optimistic,” he said. “I would once again be predicting a 10% increase in market activity with a slight increase in house price, probably averaging around the 5% mark. “I think lenders will continue to grow in confidence and that there will be an increase in property investors. “This will assist in relation to clearing some of the glut of first-time buyer properties and also improving the quality of properties available to the increasing number of people who are looking to move property but cannot afford to buy so will need to rent.” Mr Darroch said he is concerned about what effects economic problems in the eurozone could have on British banks’ attitude towards mortgage lending. He added that this May’s general election shouldn’t bring with it the same amount of uncertainty as last year’s referendum, although he does have concerns about the introduction of a mansion tax.

Business news

Tayside property chief “slightly more negative” about market’s prospects in 2017

January 18 2017

A Tayside property expert has sounded a “cautious” warning for the market in 2017 as a result of Brexit and "anti-property investor" policies from the Scottish Government. Lindsay Darroch, head of property at Blackadders, said he is “slightly more negative” than he has been in the last couple of years. Writing in his property blog, he added: “I think that 2017 will be unchartered territory as the impact of Brexit, be it soft or hard, starts affecting people’s buying power. “The continued uncertainty of Indy 2, the negative impact of the additional dwelling supplement and Scottish Government policies that in general seem to be anti-home ownership but are certainly anti-property investor, will all have an impact. “I think that we will continue to see low interest rates and good mortgage deals and I suspect there will be a further contraction in relation to the size of the market, but possibly not as large as some commentators are predicting.” Mr Darroch said his wish for 2017 would include increased assistance for first-time buyers, a review of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax bandings and the removal of the additional dwelling supplement. “In summary, I am predicting a 5% decrease in market activity with a slight increase in house prices averaging around the 2% to 4% mark,” he said.

Angus & The Mearns

Tayside property chief says Scottish Help to Buy scheme is too restricted

October 21 2013

A Tayside property expert has criticised the Scottish version of the Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers as not going far enough. The Scottish scheme only applies to first-time buyers buying new-build properties, whereas England’s scheme does not have this restriction. The Scottish Government is taking up to 20% equity in homes bought by successful applicants, making it easier for people with deposits as low as 5% to obtain mortgages. Lindsay Darroch, partner and head of property at Blackadders, has called on the Scottish Government to open up the scheme further. He said: “While I welcome all assistance to the housing market, I think the Scottish Government’s version of the Help to Buy scheme hasn’t gone far enough. It only helps first-time buyers purchasing new-build properties. “I wish that they had done more analysis in terms of the numbers of first-time buyers in Scotland that actually buy a new-build property in my experience, very few, if any. “I hope that they revisit their scheme and open it up to all properties and all buyers.” Mr Darroch has also responded to criticism that lenders have set the interest rates of Help to Buy mortgages too high. He said the scheme was not designed to introduce cheap mortgages but to increase the availability of mortgages. “I have read a number of articles on the Government’s Help to Buy scheme with the commentators advising that lenders are not reducing their rates as part of the scheme,” he added. “I think the articles are misguided as the point of the Help to Buy scheme is not to reduce the cost of borrowing but is in fact to make borrowing at higher loan to value more readily available. “I think lenders are being very sensible in not making the cost of this too cheap but I hope that it is on the proviso that when interest rates start rising, in 2015 to 2017, mortgage payments in the Help to Buy scheme do not rise as quickly.” Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the first lenders to offer products under the scheme, said it had taken 10,000 calls on mortgages since last week’s launch double the number it would usually expect to take. The Help to Buy scheme has attracted criticism that a return to 95% mortgages could fuel another property bubble.

Business news

Blackadders property chief sees another subdued market in 2012

January 12 2012

A Tayside property firm partner is predicting the local housing market will be ''very subdued'' for the time being. Lindsay Darroch, partner and head of property services at Blackadders Solicitors, anticipates first-quarter activity levels will come close to the low point of 2009. Mr Darroch said: ''My feeling is that with the sovereign debt crisis rumbling on, further public-sector cuts and banks continuing to tighten up on lending criteria, quarter one and quarter two of 2012 will be very subdued... ''I am also anticipating the faltering recovery in America will start gaining more traction during quarter two of 2012 with the feel-good factor of the presidential election in November impacting on the year-end. ''By quarter three we will start seeing a steady increase in property market activity levels with quarter four ending on a high point. ''Overall I predict activity levels finishing at the same levels of 2011 but with a much slower start. As with 2011 my feeling is that property prices will remain stable.'' He is calling for more assistance for first-time buyers with government guarantee funded by compulsory introduction of mortgage indemnity premiums. Mr Darroch wants to see tax breaks for property investment and more money for social housing. He has also called for home reports to be abolished or at least temporarily suspended or alternatively remove the valuation element of home reports and leave them simply as a report on the condition of a property.

Angus & The Mearns

Lack of Tayside properties for sale raises ‘price spike’ fear

March 2 2014

A Tayside property expert has warned that a lack of properties coming to the market could lead to a price spike. Blackadders head of property Lindsay Darroch said that supply and demand was “out of synch” and was starting to cause house prices to increase in Scotland. He said: “There has been a spate of reports regarding increases in UK house prices. “The recent property transactions that I have dealt with would indicate that this is being replicated throughout Scotland. “As the economy continues to improve and confidence returns, the number of purchasers and the amount of mortgage funds available to borrow is increasing. “The volume of purchasers and mortgage funds is increasing far more rapidly than the number of properties coming on the market, repeating a trend seen in 2013. “The impact of supply and demand being out of synch is being shown by price spikes in certain locations throughout Scotland,” Mr Darroch went on. “January showed a slight increase in the number of properties coming on to the market but it is certainly not the big whoosh of properties that a number of property experts had been expecting.” He added that he was aware of a number of developments that will be coming on to the market in the next couple of years, but said that this would not have an impact on the 2014 property market. Mr Darroch would like to see barriers removed to encourage more new properties on to the market. He continued: “My focus for the property market would focus on the removal of all barriers to encourage new properties on to the market. “The UK, Scottish and local governments should do all they can to remove planning barriers to enable developers to embark upon a major house building and development programme. “An increase in bank funding and support for developers, large and small, would increase the supply of houses coming on to the market. “The home report is more than ever looking like a tax on house-selling and is clearly another barrier to properties coming on the market. “There should be continued support for first time buyers without them, the property market will not flow freely.”

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

Blackadders increases earnings after spin off

December 12 2017

Dundee-based solicitors Blackadders saw their profits increase by 6% as it spun off the wealth management part of the business last year. Blackadders Wealth Management LLP began trading on November 1, 2016 and in its first five months of trading recorded a turnover of £636,000 and a pre-tax profit of £229,000. Meanwhile main business Blackadders achieved a turnover of £12 million and a pre-tax profit of £3m for the year ending March 31. In the accounts, managing partner Johnston Clark noted that combining the results of the two companies showed a marked increase for the Reform Street business, which recorded sales of £11.7m and a profit of £3.1m in 2016. He said: “Our long-planned objective of spinning out our wealth management business from this LLP came to fruition on November 1 2016 when Blackadders Wealth Management LLP began trading. “This sister LLP will continue to provide a seamless service both to clients of this LLP and a wider client base. “The overall position of both businesses is stronger and combined net profit has increased by 6% to £3,247,006.” Mr Clark added that it had been an “important investment year” for the firm. A merger with Boyle Shaughnessy at the start of the financial year meant it gained a footprint in Glasgow. This led to two new members joining the limited liability partnership which had 26 members at the year end. The average profit per member was £116,067 with the highest paid member receiving £209,406. A total of 224 people were employed with Blackadders during the year compared with 192 a year earlier. As well as Dundee and Glasgow, the company has offices in Perth, Forfar, Arbroath, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Partner Lindsay Darroch added: “The legal sector in Scotland is going through unprecedented changes with a number of mergers and firms failing. “In an ever changing climate it’s important to have a strategy and a vision but it’s also important to have a degree of flexibility as well to adapt to changing circumstances. “We are constantly looking at opportunities.” Turning to the firm’s trading this year, Mr Darroch added: “We set ourselves a tough target for 2017/18 and so far we are hitting our targets which is a big increase on where we were last year at this time. “We are very pleased with how it’s going.” rmclaren@thecourier.co.uk