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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...

Politics

Poverty Alliance sets out priorities for next Scottish Government

April 11 2016

The next Scottish government should introduce anti-poverty legislation to comprehensively tackle the issue, campaigners have said. The call for a Scottish Poverty Reduction Bill is one of 17 priorities for Holyrood set out in the Poverty Alliance's election manifesto. The alliance - which is made up of more than 200 member organisations - has also called for an increase to working age benefits and a ban on tax evaders from public contracts. With new powers over tax and welfare coming to the Scottish Parliament, it says there has never been a better time to re-consider the approach to tackling poverty. A Scottish Poverty Reduction Bill would require the production of a long-term anti-poverty strategy, periodic reviews of the strategy, and the "active engagement of civil society and people with experience of poverty in its development and review", its manifesto states. The Poverty Alliance is also calling on Scottish parties to commit to using new powers to top up child benefit and the benefits of working age adults, and use tax powers progressively. Other priorities include the exclusion of those who practice tax evasion from public contracts, a redesign of the assessment process for disability benefits, and tackling negative attitudes towards those living in poverty. The group also wants a future government to introduce a socio-economic impact duty to require public bodies to use their powers to reduce inequality. Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance said: "We've had 17 years of the Scottish Parliament, and poverty remains deeply ingrained. Today we are presenting 17 demands that we believe will lay the basis for a fairer Scotland. "It was clear following the independence referendum that there was a widespread desire for more powers to the Scottish Parliament. While the package being devolved may not be as exhaustive as many would have liked, they are still significant and it is vital that new powers are used. "As an organisation primarily interested in tackling poverty, the Poverty Alliance is principally concerned about how we use these new powers, alongside existing powers, to create a more socially just Scotland. "This will not be easy, and there are tough choices ahead for whoever makes up the next Scottish government." The manifesto coincides with the publication of the Scottish Anti Poverty Review which contains articles from Scotland's five main political party leaders setting out their views on how best to tackle poverty in Scotland. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her vision "is of a prosperous, productive, high-wage country where everyone gets the chance to fulfil their potential - regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or economic background". Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour, said a future government must respond to immediate challenges as well as build for the future. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson pledged to prioritise childcare, education and housing, while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called for universal access to good public services. Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie said "political will" and "creativity" can lead to far greater progress.

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.

Business news

Karin Forseke named as new chairman of Alliance Trust

January 6 2012

The former chief executive of a major Swedish investment bank has been appointed to the key role of chairman of the Dundee-based Alliance Trust. Karin Forseke is set to succeed Lesley Knox, who has led the FTSE 250 quoted business Britain's biggest generalist investment trust, with managed assets in excess of £2.7bn since 2004. The appointment comes after a global recruitment process which has taken several months to complete following the announcement in May last year that Ms Knox was due to step down ahead of the company's 2012 general meeting. Ms Knox, who will retire on April 2 after a month-long handover period, said her successor has the attributes to lead the Alliance Trust to a prosperous future. She said: ''I am delighted to welcome Karin Forseke as the next chairman of Alliance Trust. She has extensive experience of financial services and this, alongside her international perspective, will be invaluable as we continue to invest across the globe in order to seek value for our shareholders.'' Ms Forseke will join the Alliance board in March and assume her full responsibilities as chairman on April 2. She is currently deputy chair and senior independent director at the Financial Services Authority in London and is a non-executive director of Wallenius Lines, a privately-owned shipping company. Ms Forseke is also a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and a non-executive director of the Royal Opera in Stockholm. One of her highest-profile roles was as chief executive of Swedish-based investment bank D. Carnegie & Co AB, which she held between 2003 and 2006. Ms Knox who was raised in Edinburgh took over the reins from Bruce Johnston in 2004. She has led the company through a series of milestones including the merger of the Alliance Trust and the Second Alliance Trust in 2006 to form the basis of the current business. The company launched a new asset management business with a focus on opportunities in Asia in the same year, and expanded further in 2007 with the launch of a new online dealing service. In February 2008 the trust celebrated its 120th anniversary by joining Britain's major blue-chip companies as a member of the FTSE 100 index, and it is currently the largest investment trust in the UK. Ms Knox also oversaw the move from the trust's long-time home in Reform Street to new £12.5m purpose-built headquarters on West Marketgait. However, her tenure has not been without difficulty. The trust suffered during the height of the recession in 2008/09 when its managed investment portfolio experienced major losses and the company was forced to shed around a tenth of its workforce. Ms Knox and the board also came under pressure at the 2011 general meeting after a rebel shareholder group tried to make the trust introduce a formal discount control mechanism that would force Alliance to buy back its own shares when the discount the difference between the share price and asset value went above 10%. The move was defeated but Alliance have spent millions in a rolling programme of buybacks to narrow the discount. Despite her role with the Alliance Trust coming to an end, Ms Knox will continue to have a major influence in the area as the chairman of Design Dundee Ltd, the firm which has been set up to drive forward the landmark £45m V&A museum project at Craig Harbour on the Tay.

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

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. 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.

Opinion

Uncertainty taxes boardrooms

May 27 2015

Concern is spreading around boardrooms that further devolution of tax powers from Westminster to Holyrood will target the wealthy. That could be not only Scotland’s business leaders, but the top managers and executives they need to employ to maintain their companies’ success. If they are taxed more heavily than their counterparts south of the Border there is a real risk of that being where they will go and they will take their businesses with them. From next April there will be a Scottish rate of income tax. The UK Treasury will deduct 10p from standard and upper rates of income tax in Scotland and give MSPs the power to decide how to raise cash. There is anxiety that, armed with the new powers, the SNP Government would be tempted to pursue its austerity-ending agenda by raising more tax from the wealthy. The implications of that strategy are fraught with danger for the business community and the wider Scottish economy. If Scotland’s businesses feel they are being victimised by the tax change, how will they react? A clue came in the run-up to last year’s Scottish referendum, when many revealed plans to move aspects of their operations south of the Border in the event of a vote for independence. One of them was Dundee investment company Alliance Trust, which registered companies in England after warning of “uncertainty” over the independence referendum. The independence uncertainty has been answered, at least for the time being, but has been replaced by uncertainty over Scottish income tax. A post-general-election survey by accountancy firm EY revealed 60% of business leaders were concerned about retaining and recruiting staff if Scottish income tax rates were higher than in the rest of Britain. Alliance Trust chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox said an extended period of uncertainty over Scottish tax changes “was not in the best interests of business or the economy as a whole”. The Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland and the Scottish Retail Consortium have expressed similar worries. The Scottish Government has tried to quell the concerns by pointing to its financial probity with present powers, and saying it would take the same approach with the new tax powers. The high road to Scottish income tax could clearly be bumpy, and send Scottish businesses heading in the opposite direction. For the journey to be smoother, and to avoid an exodus, surely the view of Scottish Chamber of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron should be heeded. It is not enough for politicians north or south of the Border to implement change, she stated, then expect business and wider Scotland to have to deal with the consequences. Far better that the business community is fully involved in the consultation process. She makes a good point.

Readers' letters

Complex problems of saving hen harriers

January 30 2016

Sir, - Nicolle Hamilton described Jim Crumley’s article (January 19) on grouse shooting as unbalanced and distorted. Strong words but are they justified? In his article, Jim made great play of the plight of hen harriers, implicating those who manage grouse moors. However, Jim knows it is not that simple. Hewill have read the recent article in Scottish Birds by Bob McMillan. Following a 12-year-long study on the Isle of Skye, Bob reported that of 88 nesting attempts by hen harriers, 47 failed, with predators the most likely cause. Monitoring nests with cameras revealed that red foxes were responsible for two thirds of the failures, killing chicks and fledged and adult birds. He will also have read the report in 2013 by David Baines and Michael Richardson on the first 10 years ofthe experiment onLangholm Moor. This showed that a grouse moor provides an excellent habitat for hen harriers as the game keepers controlledpredators such as red foxes and ensured there was abundant prey for the harriers. Following the protection of hen harriersin 1992, their numbers on Langholm Moor greatly increased. But by 2002 their numbers had againcollapsed following the removal of the keepers in 1999. This collapse was attributed to increased predation, particularly by red foxes and lack of prey resulting from the removal of the keepers. The keepers were removed because the increased numbers of harriers had limited the numbers of grouse for shooting. This is a complex, catch 22 situation. Jim knows all this but chooses to vilify many of those who live and work in the countryside. But dealing with the complex issues typical of the real world is not Jim’s remit. Keep it simple Jim; people are theproblem. David Trudgill. The Steading, Blairgowrie. Predationthreat to birds Sir, - I write in response to JimCrumlney’s column, Nature pays dearly for grouse shooters. Despite the trials of our lives including pressures on our sleeping patterns, few if any,people worry about being killed by another predatory species. However, for practically every other species, predation is a real and increasing threat. Growing evidence suggests that breeding populations of some ground-nesting birds, such as wading birds and gamebirds, are more likely to be limited by predation than other groups,perhaps because their nests or young are mostvulnerable to predation. This comes at a time when, with the exception of the kestrel, every other species of raptor populations has grown, in many cases exponentially, and that some form of control is required to limitfurther impact on rare and vulnerable species. The UK Government has recognised theproblem is not as one sided as bird charities would suggest and it has implemented a henharrier recovery plan in England. I could invite Mr Crumley to accompany me to visit a few of the areas he highlighted as being a problem to see the conservation effort and the tangible biodiversity from those he would castigate. But when did the truth ever get in the way of a good story? Jamie Stewart. Scottish Countryside Alliance, Director for Scotland. 16 Young Street, Edinburgh. Wildlife cleared from estates Sir, - George Murdoch (January 26) makes some interesting points about raptor crime, estates and conservation bodies. It would be a big step forward if all estates were transparent in a genuine way rather than the glossed-over attempt to portray themselves as the saviours of these Scottish moorlands. Some are keen topromote the view that all manner of wildlife is flourishing under their guardianship. Sadly, some estates have cleared their land of all Scottish red deer and Scottish mountain hares purely because they carry ticks, which if picked up by grouse can affect their well-being. This hardly helps the biodiversity of these places and is an affront to our natural heritage. Sadder still is the fact that hen harriers have not nested in Angus for 10 years. Robert Anderson. Kirkton, Arbroath. Ladies made homeless Sir, - Twenty years ago a group of ladies formed a craft group at the Damacre Centre in Brechin. Since then we have met every Fridaymorning to enjoy two hours of companionship and crafting. Now Angus Council has told us we can no longer use the centre but have to move to the new high school. However, until the old school is pulled down in 2017, there will be no parking or a bus service. Many of us are in our 80s so how are we expected to get there? The Damacre Centre is only two minutes’ walk from a good bus service. We have offered to pay more to stay at thecentre, at least until 2017, but have been turned down. So thanks to thecouncil and the SNP’s mania for centralisation, 24 elderly ladies are deprived of their Friday morning get-togethers and another building is added to the long list of buildings which blight Brechin. Mrs M. Armstrong. 83 High Street, Edzell. Litter blight in Kinross Sir, - As I was working in Kinross on January 21, I decided to visit the local Sainsbury’s supermaket for a bit of lunch. On travelling back from the store, I was shocked by the amount of litter on the pavement at Springfield Road. Further up Springfield Road I witnessed a group of school pupils who had been at the supermarket, leaving plastic foodcontainers, cans, leftover bread and so on, littering the pavement. It waslittle wonder the pupils were being followed by a flock of seagulls. This is the worst case of littering I have ever witnessed. Do these pupils not have anyconcern about the litter they leave behind and the cost to council forclearing up this mess? Ian Robertson. Hillview, Station Road, Crook of Devon. EU has Britain in tax trap Sir, - The disgraceful deal between Google and HM Revenue andCustoms is a simplecase of soft-targettaxation. Individuals and small businesses are pursued like war criminals, while for many multinationals, paying tax in Britain is an optional extra. It is not just in taxation that the authoritiesfollow this unfair approach of picking on the weak and ignoring the powerful. The police have long practised soft-target policing. It is easy to pursue motorists for speeding and fools on socialmedia; policing thehardened criminals in the country is quite another matter. For policing, what is chiefly needed is a change of heart, but for taxation that will not be enough. Multinationals know that there is nothing that we can do to make them pay in Britain on their British profits so long as we are in the European Union. To its credit, the coffee chain Starbucks haschosen in the last couple of years to start to pay its fair share. The other multinationals just laugh at us. Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation should have included a change to EU rules on free movement of capital to ensure that profits are taxed where they are earned. Of course, he didnot because therenegotiation is simply cosmetic. A future in whichmultinationals pay their fair share of tax is yet another reason for usto vote to leave theEuropean Union. Otto Inglis. Ansonhill, Crossgates. SNP champions Tory austerity Sir, - I thank Councillor Kevin Cordell forhis generous comments (January 27) about my role as councillor for the West End on Dundee City Council. However, in relation to the impending huge budget cuts to Scottish local government,Councillor Cordellconfuses facts asopinion. I made no comment on whether or notthe block grant settlement from Westminster is generous or not this year but it is a fact that it has been increased by £0.5 billion a 1.7% increase. The SNP Scottish Government, despite this 1.7% increase from Westminster, has decided to slash local government budgets across Scotland by 3.5%, a massive cut in local services of £350m, across Scottish localgovernment. If anyone is the bag carrier for Tory austerity, Councillor Cordell has only to look to his own SNP Government. Cllr Fraser Macpherson. Councillor for the West End, Dundee City Council.

Dundee

Broughty Ferry beach passes water quality test

June 13 2013

Broughty Ferry beach has easily passed its first official test of water quality for the 2013 bathing season. Publication of the data from laboratory tests by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency comes only days after it was confirmed the beach has lost its Blue Flag status. This was because water quality dipped too often last year, thought to be caused by the run-off of agricultural waste from fields into the Tay estuary during heavy rains. Blue Flag status requires beaches to meet consistently the European guideline standard for the presence of bacteria. A pre-season test sample at Broughty beach achieved this standard and the first official sample, taken on June 6, has done the same. There are supposed to be fewer than 100 E coli and intestinal enterococci per 100 millimetres of water. The June 6 test found fewer than 10 per 100ml for both of the bugs. Water will be collected frequently and the results will be posted on Sepa’s website.

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