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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...

Business news

Profits surge at Morgan Sindall

August 5 2014

Profits at construction and infrastructure group Morgan Sindall surged in the first six months of this year. It reported pre-tax profits for the half-year of £13 million, up from £1m the year previous, despite a 2% overall fall in revenues to £998m. The firm which was involved in upgrading Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital and completed a £67m extension to the Perth prison campus said it had seen a general increase in market activity in the period, with its order book moving ahead 14% to £2.7 billion. New work orders include a five-year framework agreement with Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission for joint venture company MSVE Transmission to carry out a range of overhead line works, and a £1.2m contract to deliver part of a new 1MW hydro power scheme for the Perth-based specialists Green Highland Renewables. CEO John Morgan said: “For the remainder of 2014, the operating environment for general construction is expected to remain challenging, with no easing of pressure on margins. “However, with continued positive momentum anticipated within both Fit Out and Urban Regeneration, the group remains on track to deliver results for the full year in line with the board’s expectations,” he added.

UK & World

Bondage murderer admits Breaking Bad TV show inspired attempt to dispose of body in acid

November 14 2016

A Breaking Bad fan who strangled a police officer during a bondage sex session and tried to dispose of the body in an acid bath has been convicted of murder. Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh. Following an Old Bailey trial, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after the jury had deliberated for more than 30 hours. Brizzi, who gave no reaction as the jury delivered its verdict, will be sentenced on Friday, December 9. The court heard how the defendant met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a "hot dirty sleazy session" at his flat near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing as part of a sex game slipped. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. In the days after the killing, crystal meth addict Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body and stripping the flesh. Meanwhile, Pc Semple's long-term partner Gary Meeks raised the alarm and reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, in Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi's flat and eventually called police who came across the grisly sight of "globules" of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple's head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found. The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat. Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of a policeman because "Satan told me to". During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr. Brizzi said: "I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him 'Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it's a mess'." The Italian also told police that he had "chucked" some of Pc Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings. A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall. The court heard that Brizzi was addicted to crystal meth, which had cost him his job at financial giant Morgan Stanley. He had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show "glorified" the drug. He told the group he believed in the Devil and liked satanic rituals and he bragged of his bondage sex encounters. In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple's DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible. Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors of the difficulties of being a gay man brought up in a religious Italian family. The youngest of three siblings, his Tuscan father was a civil servant and his uncle was a Catholic priest. He told jurors that Pc Semple died in a "state of erotic bliss". his lawyer, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, insisted he was no "monster" and could not have eaten Pc Semple's flesh as it was covered in chemicals. Throughout his evidence, Brizzi wept and cried out "I'm sorry" as he was confronted with what he had done. He had earlier admitted a charge of obstructing a coroner by disposing of the body. Pc Semple's brain and other internal organs have never been found.

Readers' letters

July 4: Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf ears

July 4 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf earsSir,-One could almost feel the pride throughout J.J. Marshall's column about Morgan Academy, Dundee. What a pity he, and all the other former pupils, are not prepared to do something about the Morgan gravestone in the Howff. Some nine years ago The Nine Trades found it in a disgraceful state. They spent a great deal of money having new pillars cut and the stone repaired and replaced. The stone, however, needs the inscription re-cut. We obtained a quote of some £1300 for the work and committed the sum of £300 to start things off. Despite repeated pleas, often in your paper, for money to make up the balance, we have only had one response, a cheque from one grateful past pupil for £40. So much for the great pride Morgan pupils have in their old school. Work that out at a cost per proud pupil and it is less than a loaf of bread. Some pride. Innes A. Duffus.Dundee.Law Society stayed quietSir,-It must be really demoralising for law students, especially graduates trying to complete their articles and many still seeking employment, to see their profession being further denigrated. I would have thought that, even with its blemishes, the Scottish Law Society would be more than capable of dealing with any criminal case or human rights issue without any outside intervention. Whether politics were involved or not, I remember in 2009 the lord chancellor was one of the main instigators of the Supreme Court. At that time only three High Court judges from Scotland were appointed. With an issue proving so important to our nation, was there even a murmur at any level from the Scottish Law Society? In a constantly changing world perhaps now is the time for a re-appraisal of the Law Society and its role. James M. Fraser.39 High Street,Leven.Pension grumbles overstatedSir,-This morning's editorial (June 29) was spot on when it claimed the public-sector pension issue should have been addressed by the Labour government in 2005 when they memorably funked it. Increased longevity makes impossible continuance of an unreformed system. A 3% increase in contributions and a retirement age of 66 is not the end of the world. The professions tend to overestimate the income they will need in retirement and my kirk pension of £12,000 after 35 years, plus my state pension, has proved fine. My medical brothers received over four times that amount and retirement at 60 but I found the closing years before retirement at just past 65 the most rewarding of my entire career. As long as the poorer-paid public sector workers are protected, I think the better-off professionals with school fees and mortgages long past should keep a grip on reality. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Not the saviours they pretendSir,-The SNP's Alex Orr (June 27) is right to highlight Scotland's marginally better public spending deficit as compared to the UK generally, but at least the Westminster government has acknowledged the need to get it under control. However, the SNP wants to see a Scotland with fiscal policies like slashed corporation tax, significantly reduced fuel duty and tax breaks for favoured sectors such as computer games. The SNP is clearly reluctant to raise income tax or council taxes, or to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. But it makes lavish spending commitments. It surely ill behoves the Nationalists to favourably compare Scotland's deficit to that of the UK. No wonder the SNP is so keen for Scotland to have borrowing powers. Mr Orr highlights the role of oil revenues in an independent Scotland. But this merely underlines yet another future drain on Scotland's public purse, namely the subsidy-hungry renewables industry. There would also be a stealth tax in the form of rocketing energy bills. The SNP's attempts to depict themselves as the planet's environmental saviours, while at the same time portraying oil as the key to Scotland's future, shows that the party wants to have its renewables cake and eat it. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fairtrade status undermined Sir,-I note with interest your article (June 28) about Scotland being on course to become the world's second Fair Trade nation. Having been on the original working group which helped set up the Scottish Fair Trade Forum back in 2006, I think it would be wonderful to see this goal being achieved. Dundee became a Fairtrade City in March 2004, the first in Scotland, but this status needs to be renewed. That is currently under threat because, unlike other local authorities, Dundee City Council does not automatically provide Fairtrade catering for meetings. It would be a great shame if Scotland's Fair Trade nation accolade were denied because its first Fairtrade city lost its status. Sally Romilly.4 Westwood Terrace,Newport-on-Tay. Leuchars still at riskSir,-The fact that the MoD has spent millions on RAF Leuchars is no guarantee of saviour. Remember that a new hangar complex was built for rescue helicopters of 22 Squadron, only for the RAF to disband the flight. Stephen Pickering.19 Abbey Court,St Andrews.

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

Perth & Kinross

Storm-hit Bleaton Hallet bridge could be re-opened by Christmas

August 13 2016

The construction crew tasked with replacing an historic Perthshire bridge, which was damaged during freak Hogmanay storms, has pledged to residents: "The end is in sight". The crossing at Bleaton Hallet was put out of action when part of its structure was washed away by the sheer force and volume of water below. The closure of the C446 stretch, between Alyth and the A93, has meant an 18-mile detour for drivers. In March, a huge crane was used to remove the collapsed 35-tonne structure. Perth and Kinross Council has awarded the contract to design and build the replacement link to Motherwell-based construction specialists Morgan Sindall. The company is now preparing to start work on the £1 million replacement project, which bosses hope will be completed by the end of the year. The new bridge will be made using a galvanised steel structure and has been designed to allow all vehicles to cross, with no weight restrictions. The site team will be working around a four metre vertical face on the east embankment to construct new abutments, pouring in 100 cubic metres of concrete. The design also includes improvements to drainage to defend the bridge against severe weather damage in the future. Morgan Sindall has pledged to take steps to protect any damage to surrounding environment, such as debris falling into the Blackwater river below. Dry stone walling, due to be dismantled during the build, will be salvaged and reconstructed once the bridge is in place. The company was selected for the work after giving a presentation to council officials, suggesting the Ruthven road bridge, on the outskirts of Kingussie, could be a construction model for the new structure. Director of infrastructure Robert Ogg said: "The C466 road provides a vital link between Alyth and the A93 to Glanshee and the local communities come to depend on the infrastructure network so heavily, often without noticing how vulnerable it can be. "We are acutely aware of this reliance and are proud to be designing and building a new bridge to restore this critical access. Our message to the many people who would usually use this route is that the end is in sight." Perth and Kinross Council leader Ian Miller said: "I am glad to hear that we have appointed a contractor and that these necessary works to repair what is a key transport route for many people can now begin."

Dundee

New £3.5 million footbridge at Seabraes tipped to become Dundee landmark

February 17 2014

A new £3.5 million footbridge to connect one of Dundee’s busiest streets to the waterfront will be discussed by councillors. The contract to design and build the crossing over the railway at Seabraes between Perth Road and Riverside Drive is recommended to go to Morgan Sindall plc. Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee said: “I am sure that the stunning design and strategic location of the new bridge will soon make it a city landmark. “Thanks to the new bridge pedestrians and cyclists will get easy access from one of the main arteries of Dundee to the heart of the waterfront.” Work on the bridge is expected to start on site in autumn with a completion date in spring next year. Councillors will meet to discuss the project on Monday February 24.

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.

Business news

Green Highland Renewables starts work on £3.5m Allt Gharagain scheme

March 27 2014

A Perth hydro electricity firm has begun construction work on a £3.5 million scheme at Achnasheen in the Highlands. The 1MW Allt Gharagain development is the fourth project to be developed in the area by hydro power specialists Green Highland Renewables (GHR). It is being progressed by GHR and joint venture partner Albion Ventures. Infrastructure group Morgan Sindall is constructing the high-head, run-of-river project and is expected to achieve a grid connection in December. GHR managing director Ian Cartwright said: “This project is technically challenging as we need to cross the Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh railway line, and we’ve worked closely with Network Rail to ensure this will be as smooth as possible. “We’re also building three other schemes in the immediate area, so our project management team will be on site or nearby throughout the construction phase.” Mr Cartwright said the firm was entering a “very busy period” as it looked to progress some of the 37 projects it has had consented over the past four years. It has built seven schemes to date, and a further eight are in the construction phase.

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

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