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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...

Other sports

Economics to dominate Tuesday’s campaigning in Scotland

April 14 2015

Economic policy is likely to dominate election campaigning in Scotland today as Nicola Sturgeon attacks the "Westminster consensus on cuts", and Jim Murphy outlines what he claims will be the cost of full fiscal autonomy for families. Both politicians are on the campaign trail, with the First Minister visiting New Lanark, South Lanarkshire, and the Labour leader in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire. The visits come the day after Labour published its election manifesto, and on the day that the Conservative Party publishes theirs. Speaking ahead of her visit to New Lanark, Ms Sturgeon said: "The Westminster consensus on cuts is having a devastating impact on communities across Scotland - pushing 100,000 more of our children into poverty and forcing more families to have to rely on foodbanks. "In a wealthy country like Scotland that is nothing short of a disgrace - and shows exactly why we need a real alternative to the Tory-Labour cuts consensus. "People in Scotland have always known to expect harsh, ideological cuts from the Tories - and today's cuts manifesto is likely to be more of the same. "But that Labour have been so quick to meekly fall into line with George Osborne's plans just goes to show how far they have moved away from their roots. "People in Scotland are crying out for a real alternative to another five years of cuts which are punishing the working poor and vulnerable people - and the SNP is the only party committed to putting an end to austerity." Mr Murphy, who will visit a nursery in Cumbernauld, will increase pressure on the SNP over the £7.6 billion spending gap the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says Scotland would face if it took control over all tax and spending. Ms Sturgeon has said she would like full fiscal autonomy for Scotland "as quickly as the other parties agree to give it", while SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie described the IFS study as "absolutely irrelevant". Scottish Labour will release analysis of the impact on tax credits for working families if full fiscal autonomy was to be introduced. Mr Murphy said: "Five years of Tory austerity have been brutal on Scotland's working families, the last thing they need is more austerity, but that is exactly what full fiscal autonomy would mean. "Over 200,000 children in Scotland are living in poverty; this plan from the SNP would completely and utterly fail those kids. We cannot let that happen. "Scottish Labour has a better plan for a fairer Scotland. We'll start by driving up living standards by making work pay and tackling household costs. "Scottish Labour will deliver £800 million of extra investment into Scotland using fair taxes like the Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2 million and a tax on bankers' bonuses. "Scotland doesn't have to choose between Tory austerity or SNP austerity max. Scottish Labour is the only party on the ballot paper offering a real alternative to austerity. Only Labour is big enough and strong enough to kick the Tories out and give working families the support they need." Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will also be in South Lanarkshire, campaigning in Uddingston. She has welcomed the party's UK manifesto, which will confirm that a new Scotland Bill will be introduced in a Conservative government's first Queen's Speech. It will enact the recommendations of the Smith Agreement on further devolution, signed by all five of Scotland's leading parties last year. Ms Davidson said: "This is a manifesto for working people right across Britain. "It confirms that we will press ahead immediately with our plan to build a stronger, better Union as promised to Scottish voters last year."


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. 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. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “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. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “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!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo 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.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “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. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 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.” 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs 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.

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

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.

UK & World

Teenage girl assaulted by man on walk home

March 13 2018

A girl has been indecently assaulted while she was walking home alone at night in North Lanarkshire.The 15-year-old was on Glenmore Road at Eribol Walk, Newarthill at around 8.45pm on Sunday when she was approached by a man.He had been heading towards Newarthill Road, Carfin, when he put his arm around her and indecently assaulted her.She managed to escape uninjured but was left “very shaken up” by the attack.Detective Sergeant Jim Williamson, Wishaw Police Office, said: “This incident has left a 15-year-old girl very shaken up and extensive enquiries are ongoing to trace the man responsible for this assault.“The incident happened in a residential area and therefore there may have been people coming and going at that time of night who may have seen something that can help us.”The man is described as white, 6ft of slim build, clean shaven with dark hair and a long fringe that was swept to the side.At the time of the incident he was wearing a black jacket or top with white stripes on the sleeves, blue jeans and black trainers.Officers urged anyone with information to contact them via 101 quoting incident number 3918 of Monday, March 12 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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


Deliberate house fire may be linked to Uddingston funeral fight

November 22 2016

A targeted fire attack on a house in North Lanarkshire could be linked to a fight at a funeral days before. The property was set on fire in Wishaw at around 6.35pm on Sunday, and two men were seen running from the Wishaw Road area and getting into a silver car. The fire came after two mourners sustained serious facial injuries in a disturbance at Daldowie Crematorium in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, on Thursday. A 56-year-old man has since been arrested in connection with the crematorium incident. No-one was injured in Sunday's blaze, which a joint investigation by Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service concluded was deliberately started. Police "refused to rule out" suggestions that the two incidents are linked, and in addition they are investigating the discovery of a burnt-out car on the A71 Lanark Road near the M74 which could also be related. Detective Inspector Kenny Dalrymple said: "Although we believe this to be a targeted attack, this doesn't make it any less serious. "Thankfully no-one was injured, however the consequences could have been much worse. These locations would have been busy on Sunday evening and I would urge anyone with information to come forward. In particular, we are working to trace two men who were seen running from the area in Wishaw Road and entering a silver-coloured car around the time the fire was set. "A short time later, a Volkswagen Passat was found burnt-out on the A71 Lanark Road, near to the Larkhall junction of the M74. Inquiries are ongoing to establish if this vehicle is linked to the fire. "Officers are currently studying CCTV images in an effort to gather more information on this crime, the vehicle involved and the car that was found burnt-out. "Anyone with information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, should contact detectives at Wishaw police station."


College staff to hold second national strike in pay dispute

August 31 2016

A second national strike across Scotland's colleges will take place in a dispute over pay. Union members at 20 colleges across the country — including Fife, Perth and Dundee & Angus — will strike on Tuesday September 6. Members voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in a dispute which Unison claims results from college bosses awarding lecturing staff a £450 rise compared with the £230 increase they say has been offered to most support staff. The strike aims to secure the support staff - including cleaners, administrators and technicians - parity with lecturers after talks between Unison, GMB, Unite and college bosses last week failed to find a resolution. Lecturing staff at colleges across Scotland went on strike for a day in March earlier this year which centred on disputes over pay and led to the £450 settlement. Chris Greenshields, chairman of Unison's further education committee, said: "Our demand is simple and fair. Pay college support staff the same flat rate rise of £450 that you gave to our teaching colleagues. "We work for the same colleges, help deliver the same courses, support the same students and deserve the same cost of living increase." Unison's Scottish organiser John Gallacher said: "Striking is a last resort but we will support our members in every way possible to achieve the same fair and reasonable pay settlement as already paid out to teaching colleagues. "In a sector which sees top principals paid close to the salary of the Scottish First Minister, we should not be fighting over the difference between £230 and £450 for some 2,500 staff. "Unison has written to every principal and every MSP in a last-ditch attempt to avoid this unnecessary and damaging dispute." Staff at the following colleges plan to strike: Ayrshire, Borders, City of Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee and Angus, Edinburgh, Fife, Forth Valley, Glasgow Clyde, Glasgow Kelvin, Inverness, Lews Castle, Moray, New College Lanarkshire, North East, North Highland, Perth, South Lanarkshire, West, West Lothian.


North Lanarkshire Council suspends three in corruption probe

October 3 2016

Three council workers have been suspended from duty after an internal audit into corruption allegations. North Lanarkshire Council said it had taken the action against three members of staff from its corporate property and procurement department while a disciplinary investigation takes place. The local authority launched the probe in April after detailed allegations were made in a letter to council leader Jim Logue. The council's internal audit team carried out the investigation, with chief executive Paul Jukes stating he had received an "extensive report" on Friday September 30. Mr Jukes stated: "Having considered the report, I have taken the decision to suspend three members of staff from corporate property and procurement on full pay to allow for a disciplinary investigation to take place. "The council will have no further comment to make while this disciplinary investigation is carried out."