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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…

UK & World

Free speech codes can be “too complicated”, watchdog leader says

January 24 2018

University codes on free speech can be too complicated, the head of a new watchdog has said. While institutions do need to think about issues surrounding free speech on campus, there is a danger that rules can be too complex, according to Sir Michael Barber. Sir Michael, chair of the new Office for Students (OfS), told MPs and Lords that he sees free speech as “absolutely fundamental”. The human rights committee is holding an inquiry into free speech in universities. It comes amid an ongoing debate about free speech at universities, and a number of reports of speakers, debates, literature and organisations being opposed or criticised, often by student unions, societies or particular groups of students. Former universities minister Jo Johnson previously warned that free speech is a key part of university life, while the OfS has been tasked with ensuring that universities promote freedom of speech within the law. At a hearing this afternoon, committee chair Harriet Harman said that universities have a legal duty to have a code of practice on free speech, and that committee members had seen examples of these, some of which involved “assessments, more advance risk assessments, notice periods, appeals, application forms, even to the extent that they need to be simplified by some quite complex organograms”. “Isn’t all this bureaucracy around these freedom of speech policies, aren’t they actually, in effect, inhibiting freedom of speech?” she asked Sir Michael. Ms Harman, Labour MP for Camberwell and Peckham, added: “Isn’t freedom of speech the absence of all these rules, guidance, procedures? She went on to say: “It seems from what we’ve heard and what we’ve looked at, that actually, you’ve got the requirement to promote freedom of speech, but it’s being turned into a bureaucracy which is in fact inhibiting free speech. . @MichaelBarber9 to committee: The @officestudents will want maximum amount of speech within the law but must be possible to set rules for debate #Article10 pic.twitter.com/NwIrypulW4— Human Rights Ctte (@HumanRightsCtte) January 24, 2018. @MichaelBarber9 to committee: a simplified model code of practice on free speech perhaps promoted by a group of universities and student unions could be useful #Article10— Human Rights Ctte (@HumanRightsCtte) January 24, 2018 Sir Michael told the committee that the OfS, the new regulator for higher education in England “will champion free speech, we won’t be complacent about it, and we will encourage boldness”. He suggested that there are issues around the rules on free speech, such as controversial speakers, that universities need to think about. But he said: “I do think that some of the examples of codes of practice are too complicated and too bureaucratic. “On the other hand I don’t want to be totally simplistic.” There are issues about the rules of debate that need decisions, he argued, adding that some universities “do a very good job of getting student union people and university administrators together to make sensible decisions on these things.” “It’s not going to be completely simple, but I think you can over-complexify it,” Sir Michael said. He added that he does not think that the OfS should come up with a single code of practice. “I don’t think we want any kind of government-related agency doing single codes of practice on freedom of speech, it just feels altogether wrong,” he said. “But if a group of university leaders with student unions got together and came up with a simplified code of practice, that might be a very good idea.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Alison Kershaw, Press Association Education Correspondent'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '48b88fd7-17fb-4244-9f1c-c98860b9c15a'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Free speech codes can be u201Ctoo complicatedu201D, watchdog leader says'});

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

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o’ the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. © SuppliedTayside musician Eddie Cairney Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It’s just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there’s nothing here I can write about but there’s always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o’ the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” © PAQueensferry Crossing Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song “He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal” Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.”   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. “If you forget your piece you’ve had it and you starve for there’s no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was “midday salvation”! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” © SuppliedEddie Cairney Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Supergrass to be used as witness in prosecution of 1994 UVF murders suspect

November 14 2017

One man is to be prosecuted using evidence from a loyalist paramilitary-turned-supergrass informer over the Troubles murder of two Catholic workmen in Northern Ireland. He is expected to be charged early in the new year in connection with the 1994 killings. Under the Good Friday Agreement, if convicted he will be eligible for release from prison within two years. Eamon Fox, 44, and Gary Convie, 24, were shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in North Queen Street in Belfast as they ate lunch in their vehicle. Barra McGrory QC explains his decision to prosecute using supergrass evidence. pic.twitter.com/dc3eLT6onP— michael mchugh (@mmchugh02) November 14, 2017 Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Barra McGrory QC said the testimony of loyalist informer Gary Haggarty as well as independent eyewitness and forensic evidence would be used. He said: “I am satisfied that there is independent evidence which is capable of supporting his identification of the suspect.” The suspect is understood to have been previously charged with the murders of Mr Fox and Mr Convie but his case was not proceeded with pending resolution of Haggarty’s prosecution. As well as the murders he will be accused of the attempted murder of an individual known as witness A, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life, and membership of the UVF. The DPP said: “I have concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the test for prosecution is met. “I confirm that we intend to use assisting offender Gary Haggarty as a witness in this prosecution.” Laganside Courthouses in Belfast city centre Haggarty, 45, pleaded guilty in the summer to 202 terror offences, including five murders. He is due to be sentenced and was expected to walk free, having already served three years in custody on remand – the equivalent of a six-year sentence – under the controversial assisting offender legislation. A contentious state deal offered him a significantly reduced prison term in exchange for his evidence against other loyalist paramilitaries. This new charge in relation to the Fox and Convie killings would be the first time his evidence has been used against another person. Mr Fox’s son Kieran raised questions about the use of the supergrass law. Kieran Fox, whose father Éamon was murdered by the UVF in 1994, reacts to the decision to charge a man. pic.twitter.com/79EJ2CWj2X— michael mchugh (@mmchugh02) November 14, 2017 He said: “To me it is just doomed to fail. It is set up in such a way that it is a get out clause for the police, for the assisting offender, they cut themselves a deal, irrespective of whether they are used or not used, they are still going to walk at the end of it.” He said he wanted to see police in the dock. Last month the PPS announced its decision not to prosecute 13 suspects implicated by Haggarty, including two former police intelligence officers. Haggarty’s case is due to return to court on Wednesday, when legal submissions will be made. On Tuesday Mr McGrory said another two suspects reported in relation to the murder of John Harbinson – who was killed after being handcuffed and beaten in the loyalist Mount Vernon estate in north Belfast in May 1997 – using Haggarty’s evidence would not be prosecuted because the test of a reasonable prospect of conviction had not been met. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Michael McHugh, Press Association'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '318f7ac5-6a8d-46b3-a03c-2e9b2aba86bf'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Supergrass to be used as witness in prosecution of 1994 UVF murders suspect'});

Dundee

Line of Duty brings in Dundee director for new series

March 24 2016

More than four million viewers tuned in to the last instalment of the BBC Two programme Line of Duty but fans old and new can look forward to the direction of Broughty Ferry-born film-maker Michael Keillor in the new series’ first three episodes. The acclaimed police corruption drama is returning to screens tonight after a two-year break. Called in to investigate an armed response unit mission gone wrong, series three sees higher stakes than ever for members of the fictional anti-corruption unit AC-12. Already a fan of the series when he joined the project, Michael promised that viewers will be shocked and excited by the action in the season premiere. “It’s the most exciting domestic cop show on British TV,” he said. “There aren’t many contemporary police thrillers which have a political element to them.” The stakes have been raised by the introduction of an armed police unit. If a corrupt policeman is a danger to society, says Michael, a policeman with a gun is all the more risky. Now based in London, Michael’s success is happening at a time when local talent is making waves in film and TV. Fans of Jericho or River City may be familiar with the directorial work of Broughty Ferry native Robert McKillop and the Fife-born Andrew Cummings. McKillop, who hails from the same street as Michael in Broughty Ferry, recently directed three episodes for the new ITV drama Jericho. Cummings recently directed Kai, a short about a contemporary dancer struggling to reach the expectations of her choreographer. Michael is keen to encourage the next generation of film-makers to pick up a camera. With Dundee Contemporary Arts having celebrated its 15th anniversary this week and the waterfront regeneration well under way, he says now is a better time than ever for new talent. Compared to 20 years ago when his career began, Dundee is far more nurturing of the arts. Michael references two cultural landmarks as major turning points in his life the release of Trainspotting and the now closed Steps Cinema. “Steps was the only place for people like me to learn about different cinema,” he said. “Trainspotting showed that Scottish cinema could be the same as North American or European cinema.” Now aspiring film-makers can create films with just a mobile phone and a computer. Being from Dundee, in fact, can actually work to your advantage despite of any naysayers. Compared to Shoreditch, in which there are five film-makers in Michael’s building alone, directors in Dundee have the chance to stand out. “Don’t think you can’t be a film-maker just because you’re not from or London or Hollywood,” said Michael. “Film-makers come from everywhere. It’s about picking up a camera, having a go and not letting anyone tell you you can’t do it.” How can we see a better reflection of Scottish stories and people in the arts? With his work in high-quality television like Line of Duty, Michael’s focus is to create a bigger pool of talent in Scottish filmmaking. After all, creating shows like Line of Duty is part of his path to creating feature films primarily in Scotland. His current project is writing a homecoming tale set in the Highlands. “I hope articles like this will help guys like me who are sitting at home thinking ‘I could do that’.”

Business news

Ryanair’s hopes for end to UK heatwave

July 30 2013

Low-cost airline Ryanair is pinning its hopes on an end to the heatwave after passenger numbers were hit by the good weather amid plunging first-quarter profits. The 21% fall in the Irish carrier’s bottom-line figure, blamed on soaring fuel costs, the timing of Easter and a French air traffic control strike, had been expected. But chief executive Michael O’Leary said performance in recent weeks has also been slightly weaker, which is believed to be a result of the heatwave in northern Europe. He said while it was believed full-year profits would remain as expected, this was on the basis the weakness did not continue. Mr O’Leary said Ryanair’s performance in the second quarter was still expected to improve, despite comparisons with the buoyant Olympic period last year. He said the airline’s outlook remained cautious due to the recession and austerity measures, high fuel costs, and tax policies, but full-year traffic was expected to grow 3% to 81.5 million. The airline’s full-year profit after tax guidance remains at between £492 million and £518m. The airline’s first quarter saw passenger numbers up 3% to 23.2 million and revenue rising 5% to £1.16 billion partly as a result of reserved seating, priority boarding and higher admin and credit card charges. Revenue per passenger rose 1% but profit after tax fell 21% to £67m. Mr O’Leary said the airline’s seven new bases in Eindhoven, Maastricht, Krakow, Zadar, Chania, Marrakesh and Fez were performing well. He said new routes and bases would be announced later this year to exploit cutting back by other European carriers, while the airline was in negotiations with the new owners of Stansted airport to increase traffic. He also used the announcement to criticise a Competition Commission decision which may force it to sell down its stake in rival airline Aer Lingus. There has been nervousness in recent weeks about the impact of the heatwave on airlines’ performance, with hard-pressed passengers declining to shell out for a sunshine break abroad when they can top up on their tans at home.

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.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir – the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

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