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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...

Perth & Kinross

PKAVS charity worked convicted of £5,000 embezzlement

March 24 2017

A former care service manager has been warned he faces jail after being found guilty of embezzling thousands of pounds from the charity he worked for. George McFarlane, who is known by his middle name of Stewart, had denied taking more than £5,000 in donations which had been raised for the Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS). However following a trial, in which the 44-year-old admitted failing to deposit donations at a safe place and instead went to the Loft nightclub with them in his pocket, he was convicted of taking £5,125 at the Glen Bar, Perth between November 29 2011 and June 1 2014. He had previously admitted fraudulently using a business fuel card for his own use and filing false expenses claims at PKAVS office in North Methven Street between April 30 2012 and September 1 2014. Perth Sheriff Court heard the charity had originally operated a “Heath Robinson” attitude to donations — in reference to the cartoonist whose complicated machines achieved simple outcomes — with money being recorded in a notepad, but later the system was updated. Michael Walsh, who worked as a senior manager for the charity until his retirement, said: “When I first started there was an elderly lady who ran the accounts department with paper and pencil. It was quite Heath Robinson but she was very careful. “She was replaced by another woman who tried to replace it but it was very slapdash. As PKAVS grew the accounts system didn’t grow with it.” However he refuted McFarlane’s claim that money had been left in the office pigeon holes. Sheriff Gillian Wade deferred sentence on McFarlane, Of Stormont Road, Perth, for reports. Following the conviction a spokesman for PKAVS said: “Following an internal investigation in December of 2014, PKAVS chief executive had reason to believe that our charity had been the victim of financial crime. We immediately reported our concerns to the police at that time. “PKAVS board, our management and staff have fully supported the investigation and note the outcome of the criminal proceedings against Mr McFarlane. We in PKAVS continue to ensure that our financial procedures provide the utmost security, transparency and accountability going forward.”

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

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.

Perth & Kinross

PKAVS chairman Stephen Bolland stands down

May 26 2015

Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS) marked the retirement of director and chairman Stephen Bolland from its board of directors after nearly six years’ service with a reception held at The Gateway in Perth. He first got involved with PKAVS as a volunteer in 2008 and helped project manage the charity’s largest ever fundraising event, PKAVS Party in the Park. After this success, Mr Bolland was invited to join the board as a director and was elected as chairman in 2012. Replacing him in the role is PKAVS director Andy Chan who first became involved with the charity as part of a steering group for PKAVS Minority Communities Hub in 2010.

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

£500,000 pledged to help tackle poverty in Perth and Kinross

March 11 2014

Perth and Kinross is now so deeply in the grip of poverty that unprecedented sums of money are being awarded to charities battling the crisis. Hundreds of families are said to be struggling with financial woes and the crushing burden of debt to the extent that they can no longer feed themselves. The region’s foodbank has donated more than 12 tonnes of food to stricken residents in just a few months and has been forced to move to bigger premises and establish four satellites. Now a near £500,000 grant has been awarded to the Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS) in recognition of the increasingly perilous situation many residents find themselves in. The latest sum will go directly to support struggling members of the region’s increasingly large ethnic minority communities. It follows the award, in January, of more than £460,000 to support its vital work with vulnerable children, through its increasingly utilised and under pressure Younger Carers Project. The charity had believed it likely just one bid would succeed, but the backing for the MEAD (Minority Ethnic Access Develop-ment) reflects both how well-respected PKAVS is at a national level and the recognised scale of poverty issues locally. More than 12% of all residents in Perth and Kinross are now said to be “over-indebted” and struggling to cope with bills and repayments. PKAVS’ fundraising manager Kerrigan Bell told The Courier: “This is the largest single donation in the 40-year history of PKAVS. “The minority communities within Perth and Kinross are no different from any other, in that they are increasingly hard-pressed,” she said. “There is an increased level of demand for all our services from local people, particularly around poverty issues, and we are making ever more referrals to the Perth and Kinross Foodbank. “There are people in our communities who are really struggling and PKAVS has to be there to help them through it. “This is a very difficult challenge but our main reason for being here is helping people who are disadvantaged, right here in our local community. “Like the funding secured for the Young Carers Project, this will support the service for three years and is extremely good news. “It does, however, cost far more than that to keep all our services running and so it is important that people know we are still inviting support from people locally.” Funding for the MEAD project set up in response to the changing demographic comes from the Big Lottery Fund’s Investing in Communities programme. It will help PKAVS provide volunteers, community events and support for members of ethnic minority groups across Perth and Kinross. Importantly, it will help to boost English language services and access to advice and information to help reduce isolation, as well as dealing with issues of poverty. PKAVS is delighted that the grant will also enable it to share examples of best practice with organisations in other Scottish local authority areas. News of the grant has been warmly welcomed by politicians, including Liz Smith MSP, who said: “PKAVS is one of the most effective and best established voluntary sector groups in Perth and Kinross and this award confirms just how important its work is within the local community. “There is no doubt that the combination of the recession and the difficulties of the employment situation make it doubly difficult for many minority groups and many charities working to help them have found life very tough indeed. “PKAVS deserves our full support.” Pete Wishart MP, meanwhile, thanked the charity for the benefits it and its partner organisations deliver “year in, year out” for the people of Perth and Kinross. For more information on PKAVS and all its services, visit www.pkavs.org.uk.

Perth & Kinross

PKAVS staff ready for Make a Difference Day

October 19 2010

People of all ages across Perth and Kinross are working on how they will make a difference to their communities in the UK's biggest volunteering event. Make a Difference Day, the annual celebration of volunteering on October 30, is organised by national organisation Community Service Volunteers and sees thousands of events taking place across the country. A team from the local charity Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Service (PKAVS) will be one of many organisations taking part. Come rain or shine, a 10-strong team from PKAVS Community Engagement department, Voluntary Action Perthshire (VAP), will spend the morning doing their bit for the environment by planting 30 trees in the eco village of Culdees in Kenmore. PKAVS has promoted involvement in the event among their staff through Employer Supported Volunteering, an initiative that supports paid staff in contributing to their communities by offering at least one paid day's leave per year to volunteering. Lidia Dye, VAP development officer, commented, "Culdees eco village has a zero-waste, zero-energy, re-use, recycle, reclaim policy which is in-keeping with PKAVS's own climate change project Powerful Choices. "In our paid day jobs at PKAVS, the VAP team promotes volunteering to the public across Perth and Kinross, so we're looking forward to volunteering our own skills and time to help another charity." For further information, to register an event, or to find event suggestions, visit www.csv.org.uk. Details of Perth and Kinross events can be posted online at www.vaperthshire.org

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

Perth & Kinross

Respected Perth charity boss jailed for embezzlement

May 3 2017

A shamed former charity boss who staged fundraising poker nights and then pocketed the money has been jailed for 11 months. Thousands of pounds went missing over a three year period while George McFarlane advanced through the ranks at the Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS). During his trial, Perth Sheriff Court heard the 44-year-old care service manager had taken the poker proceeds to pubs and clubs in the city. He had denied taking the money but was found guilty of taking £5,125 at The Glen Bar in Perth between November 29, 2011 and June 1, 2014. McFarlane had previously admitted fraudulently using a business fuel card for his own use and filing false expense claims with the PKAVS office in North Methven Street between April 30, 2012 and September 1, 2014. The court heard that his actions had been concealed for a time by the charity's chaotic approach to finances, with one former employee describing it as "slapdash". PKAVS said its procedures had since been overhauled. * For more on this story see Thursday's Courier, also available as a digital edition.