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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


PCC adjudication

April 22 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. Two woman complained separately to the Press Complaints Commission that an article published in The Courier in January 2011 contained material that had identified their daughters as victims of sexual assault in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy), Clause 7 (Children in sex cases) and Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors' Code. The complaint was upheld. The article reported a court hearing in which a man had admitted sexual offences against two girls, both of whom were under the age of 16 at the time the crimes occurred. The report made reference to the locations where the offences had taken place, including the names of the streets two of which were the streets on which the victims lived. The article also stated the ages of the girls at the time of the offences. The complainants both said their daughters' right to anonymity had been compromised by the inclusion of this information. Complainant A said that she and her daughter lived in a rural area with only a small number of houses on their street. It was easy for neighbours and others in the local community to identify her daughter as a result of the article. Complainant A added that the level of detail included about the offences was unnecessary. Complainant B said her daughter was the only female child of the reported age who lived on the other named street. Neighbours, classmates and other acquaintances had, as a consequence, been made aware of her identity and the graphic nature of the offences to which she was subjected. This in turn had led to the girl being extremely distressed. Although it did not initially accept that it had published sufficient information to identify the victims, the newspaper admitted that its practice of only publishing outline details of cases of this nature had not been properly followed. It removed the partial addresses from its electronic archive and excluded similar references in a subsequent report about sentencing. In addition, the editor circulated a message to all staff reminding them of their obligations to protect children under the Editors' Code, and sent a letter of apology and explanation to the complainants. Adjudication The terms of Clause 7 (Children in sex cases) of the Editors' Code are very clear: "the press must not...identify children under 16 who are victims in cases involving sex offences". Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) adds that the press "must not publish material likely to contribute to [the] identification" of victims of sexual assault. If in doubt, newspapers should always err on the side of caution when considering what details to publish in relation to such cases. In this instance, the inclusion of the girls' ages and their partial addresses clearly had the potential to contribute to their identification. Indeed, given the relatively small number of houses on the streets in question, identification was always going to be a strong possibility. This was a bad mistake by the newspaper, which had acknowledged that its practice of publishing only outline details of cases such as these had not been followed. The Code affords particular protection to those who are vulnerable and it is hard to imagine anyone more vulnerable than a child victim of sexual crimes. The failure of the newspaper properly to consider the likely consequences of publishing the information in the report, especially the references to the girls' partial addresses, was a serious one. While the commission welcomed the steps taken by the editor to ensure that the Editors' Code was adhered to in the future (and while it was noted that he had apologised to the victims via their parents), it did not hesitate to uphold these complaints.

Angus & The Mearns

Tayside police officers criticised by force’s watchdog

November 26 2017

Angus police have been censured by a watchdog for their handling of a complaint from a male victim of domestic abuse. The area commander David McIntosh was among those criticised in the report issued by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). A friend of the complainer told The Courier three officers at the centre of the report should be “truly ashamed of themselves”. The complainer was a man relocated for his own protection due to an abusive relationship with a former partner who went to Arbroath police station to report a woman had harrassed him by posting his address on social media. He was told it was “not a police matter” by a female officer on duty and later complained the officer was “dismissive and did not provide suitable advice” and was “rude and unprofessional”. The man also claimed when he told her he was going to make a complaint she replied: “you do that, you like to make complaints”. Chief Inspector McIntosh wrote to the man dismissing his concerns in a manner PIRC said was “entirely at odds with the evidence available”. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/politics/scottish-politics/552503/police-scotland-reviewing-whether-leadership-can-cope-with-string-of-suspensions/ His stated: “This area...is extensively covered by visual and audio CCTV equipment. “This has been reviewed and found to show that the officer concerned has given you correct advice regarding your Facebook query which was not a police matter. “Furthermore...the officer has been found to be nothing other than respectful, polite and professional and does not make the comment you maintain but correctly stipulates that it is your right to make a complaint should you wish. “I find no evidence to substantiate your allegation and therefore your complaint is not upheld.” The footage was given to PIRC which said it supported the claim the PC “made a parting comment that he liked to complain”. PIRC's report states the chief inspector's finding "that the officer did not make such a comment is entirely at odds with the evidence available. “As this is a key element of the applicant’s allegation, it is concluded that this complaint was not handled to a reasonable standard.” A friend of the complainer said: “They are meant to be the people to keep others safe, but they’ve failed again. “I do believe that had I as a woman myself went to police to report a fear or concern I had, I would have been treated with dignity and respect, I would have been listened to. “I believe my friend was dismissed because he is a man." The watchdog also raised concerns about the sergeant who dealt with the complaint investigation, stating he concluded there was "'no complaint to answer' despite no heads of complaint having been agreed at that stage.” The review found that neither complaint was handled to a reasonable standard. It was recommended that Police Scotland re-evaluate the evidence available and “provides an apology if appropriate”.

UK & World

Water quality regulator hails national performance

August 26 2011

Public supplies of drinking water in Tayside and Fife have been given a clean bill of health. The report said particular hotspots for discolouration were the Laurencekirk and Brechin areas supplied from Whitehillocks water treatment works (WTW) and the Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath areas supplied from Glendevon WTW. Scottish Water has started mains rehabilitation works in the Whitehillocks area to address issues there. Nationally, about one in seven complaints were about tastes and odours, with chlorine taste the most common. More than 320,000 tests on samples taken from consumers' taps, storage reservoirs and water treatment works were carried out by Scottish Water, with 99.83% of those from taps meeting standards. Consumer satisfaction also rose. A spokesman said: "It is very important that the water tastes and looks good too. It is comforting to see the number of complaints to Scottish Water reduce." The regulator believes this figure will fall further through work being done to renovate old iron water mains and improve control of chlorine at some treatment works. About 150,000 people in Scotland get their water from private supplies, which often have little or no treatment. The main risk this poses is from micro-|organisms such as E. coli. The regulator said the quality of these supplies remained a concern, with 18.35% of samples tested during 2010 by local authorities containing the bacteria. Tests on supplies in Perth and Kinross, Fife and Angus found higher levels of failure than in public supplies. Upland parts of Perth and Kinross account for most private supplies in the region and 346 samples out of more than 4500 had problems, including coliforms and traces of metals. The regulator's spokesman said: "Local authorities across Scotland are working hard to communicate to the owners and users the health risk these private supplies pose, and offer support to make improvements." Out of more than 29,000 samples tested last year, just 43 failed to meet the required standard, Scotland's drinking water quality regulator reports. However, tests on private supplies, mainly in rural areas, showed a higher failure rate. The figures were revealed in a report which showed national water quality is the best it has ever been, with well over 99% of public supplies complying with strict standards. A spokesman said: "We are delighted with these results that show Scottish tap water is top quality. Households can be confident that the drinking water from their tap has been tested thousands of times each year, and that it meets some of the tightest quality standards in the world." More than 12,000 samples from public water supplies in Perth and Kinross were tested, with just 20 failures. Nine of these were for the presence of coliform bacteria and three for the metal manganese. There were more than 8000 tests in Fife with only 10 failures, seven of these for coliforms. The bacteria also accounted for four out of nine failures among 5000 tests in Angus. Around 3000 tests were done in Dundee with only four failures, three for coliforms. The regulator said that across the whole of north-east Scotland more than 4400 customers complained about water quality during the year, a rise of 12% on the previous year. Two-thirds of the complaints were about discolouration of water, which is rarely harmful. Continued...

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.


Karaoke sessions could threaten city centre pub

October 28 2016

A popular city centre pub could face losing its entertainment license after complaints over "loud" karaoke sessions. The Town House pub, situated in King Street, has had several noise complaints made against it over the past year by an unhappy nearby resident. Dundee City Council's Licensing Board met on Thursday morning to review the bar's entertainment licence. The board deferred judgement until January, so the bar's licence holder, Ms Fairfield, could price the cost of additional noise reducing equipment. A number of noise complaints were made after a resident in a flat above the bar said music from the pub could be heard in the property. On two separate occasions police were called out, but an officer from Police Scotland told the Licensing Board on both occasions the noise from the bar "was not deemed excessive". Environmental Health Officers from the council visited the pub and the property on several occasions. Officers informed the Licensing Board they could hear music in the complainer's flat coming from the pub. The Town House's customers are over mostly over the age 60, according to the bar, and do not "cause a disturbance". The pub's owners told the Licensing Board they have fitted a limiter to the karaoke machine, in efforts to keep any noise to a low level. A representative for Ms Fairfield told the Licencing Board if the pub loses its entertainment license and is unable to provide a karaoke session for its regular customers, then it would be threatened by closure. He also explained the pub had not had any issues with noise complaints before the resident making the complaint moved in to the area in the summer of 2015. He said: "If my client loses its licence, then the pub will be forced to close. This would result in 14 people losing their jobs. "If we close bars down because of noise complaints we turn the town in to a Sleepy Hollow. "If you choose to live in a flat close to a pub in the city centre, then there is going to be noise. "The clients of the Town House are not causing a disturbance, they are pensioners, by and large. "The city centre seems to be getting quieter and quieter and residents seem to be holding the whip." The complainer was not present at the Licensing Board meeting, and was unavailable for comment.

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

Campaigners ‘fight on’ to save West Mill Street Library

June 18 2014

Campaigners are to take their fight to have a Perth library reopened to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. The Friends of West Mill Street Library feel this is their only option after receiving a letter from Bernadette Malone, chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council, dismissing most of their complaints. Ms Malone wrote on behalf of Ms Pamela Dickson, the council’s complaints and governance officer, who had investigated the group’s claims that the loss of the library would hit disabled, infirm and partially-sighted people. The local authority’s lifelong learning committee agreed to close the library on April 4. One of the main complaints made by the Friends was that a council officer who recommended closure of the service carried out a review of libraries in Perth and Kinross. Fiona Robertson, head of culture and community services at the council, had previously defended the council’s procedures. She said: “The council would like to make it clear that the officer referred to has acted in complete accordance with the code of conduct for council employees in fulfilling her duties with respect to the review of library services, which was carried out in line with budget decisions taken by the council in February 2011. “This officer’s role, along with that of other officers, has been to give elected members impartial advice on options and recommendations to achieve improvements and required savings for the service.” Sybil McFarlane, from the Friends, told The Courier that the group’s legal adviser feels human rights may have been breached by the local authority’s closure of the library and that writing to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman is the only option now. “We received the letter from Ms Malone, on behalf of Ms Dickson, which basically states that all our list of complaints have been dismissed so we’ve decided to go to the ombudsman,” she said. “I feel the council think we will just give up but that isn’t the case we’ll fight on. “A lot of elderly and disabled people used the West Mill Street Library and we’ve been told by our legal team that human rights may have been breached by the council. “The action of clearing the disabled library would appear to make a complete mockery of Perth and Kinross Council’s impartial complaint and investigation procedures. “We have a complete loss of confidence in the council’s complaints procedure and its ability to undertake an impartial and transparent investigation into the formal complaint regarding the closure of the library.” A council spokesperson said the local authority has “nothing further to say” on the matter. “We have written to the complainers giving the outcome of the investigation into their complaints and have nothing further to add to this,” she said. “The Perth and Kinross Council complaints procedure has now been completed.” The spokesperson added: “As explained in our letter to the complainers, if they remain dissatisfied then the next stage would be to contact the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.”


Nicola Sturgeon welcomes Ipso ruling on leaked memo

July 6 2015

Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed a ruling by the new press standards body that a leaked memo which claimed she wanted David Cameron to remain in Downing Street was "significantly misleading". The Scottish First Minister hailed the decision by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) as a victory for the truth. Her office had lodged a complaint after the Daily Telegraph reported in the run-up to May's general election that she had told French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann she would prefer to see the Conservatives remain in power. Former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael later apologised to both Ms Sturgeon and Ms Bermann after a Cabinet Office investigation concluded he "could and should have stopped the sharing of the memo". Ipso found the newspaper had "failed to make clear that it did not know whether the account it presented was true" and added that "as a consequence the article was significantly misleading". Ms Sturgeon said: "I welcome today's unequivocal verdict by Ipso on the Daily Telegraph's story, which is a victory for effective regulation of the press - and for the truth. "The complaint was lodged on the basis that the Telegraph's conduct in producing this story fell short of the expected journalistic standards. Subsequent events have proven conclusively that the story was entirely untrue, and today's ruling simply underlines that." The First Minister added: "The press have a vital job to do in scrutinising the work of government and of the political process in general. That is a role which is essential for democracy, and it is scrutiny which I welcome. "But that does not mean that the press themselves are above and beyond scrutiny and oversight. They have a duty to ensure, as far as possible, that the stories they present to readers are fair, balanced and - above all - accurate. "The Daily Telegraph, in failing to carry out the most elementary of journalistic checks and balances, failed in this case to meet that duty." The Telegraph today featured an article about the ruling on its first two pages, as required by Ipso.