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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...

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.

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

Robert McNeil

House parties fill me with horror

June 4 2016

I have told a small white lie. Again. I started the practice a good few years ago and felt, at the age of 48, that it was just a part of growing up. No longer an angel, ken? The white lies under advisement only ever concern one thing: house parties. I cannot abide them. For some reason, they just make me unbearably uncomfortable. The last one I attended, about 15 years ago, saw me making my escape through the bathroom window. I dreeped down to the ground and, walking along the street afterwards, breathed in deeply the sweet air of freedom and vowed: ”Never again.” For a while after that, I adopted a policy of direct honesty, telling would-be hosts: “No, I will not be attending your house party as I believe the phenomenon to be evil.” However, it rarely went down well. Party holders tend not to accept satanic explanations for declining to attend. So, I started making up the sort of prosaic excuses that they seem more willing to accept: I’m washing my toenails that night; chairing a meeting of the United Nations; attending a jumble sale in Germany. Of course, I don’t really believe house-parties to be evil. They are arguably valid and pleasant occasions in which one’s tribe may gather to break bread and crockery. No, the fault is all mine. I don’t actually know what it is. I’m not sociophobic. Last weekend, I was out with friends on Friday and Saturday, and, indeed, again on Monday for lunch. I love meeting my friends. But I prefer to meet them in small groups. Perhaps, at house parties, it’s just the press of bodies in a confined space. But I don’t get the same sense of panic down the pub or at the football (though, come to think of it, I’ve nearly fainted there twice). I must have some kind of phobia and wish I could put a name to it. Folks seem to wear these things like a badge of honour. Plus, it would be a big help if, instead of telling white lies, I could produce a doctor’s line. One other aspect of house parties that I do really deplore is the sense of compulsion that comes with them. If someone declares they’re having a house party, it comes more or less as a command. You have to attend. But I am a free spirit. And, besides, Match of the Day is on. Perhaps I’ll go to parties when I’m reincarnated, preferably just as me but with a better physique, more money and a certain je ne sais quoi rather than just, as at present, a quoi. I’d be wearing the correct clothes a la mode (ie no wellies), dazzle with my conversational skills, and move easily from group to group. I wouldn’t muck up the cheek-kissing thing at the start, ask for Tennent’s lager when offered a range of fine wines, or get into a fist-fight about pacifism. But what would happen to my seemingly in-built instinct for open spaces? I guess the best citizens are comfortable both in and oot, as it were. No need for everything to be either-or. Oh boy, I can feel a new me stirring already. And that’s no word of a lie.

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.


Dundee City Council election results — Tories take seat from SNP in Ward 3: West End

May 5 2017

The Tory revival finally arrived in Dundee when Conservative candidate Donald Hay picked up a seat in the West End at the expense of the SNP. But Mr Hay acknowledged it had been a tight battle. He said: "We've taken back this seat and it means one less for the SNP so we will have to see what happens. "I was elected at stage eight but we knew it would be tight." Liberal Democrat Fraser Macpherson said he was delighted to be elected at stage one of the counting process. He received 2,105 first preferences — nearly double the 1,090 second placed Bill Campbell (SNP) received.   Result Booth Bradley Independent 65 Campbell Bill Scottish National Party (SNP) 1090 Hay Donald Scottish Conservative and Unionist 643 Macpherson Fraser Liberal Democrat Focus Team 2105 McBride Andrew Scotland Independent Network 67 McCready Richard Blake Labour and Co-Operative Party 637 Petrie Morgan Scottish Green Party 331 Rome Steven Scottish National Party (SNP) 474 Wilson Tam Scottish Socialist Party 59

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


Under-fire Kezia Dugdale vows to stay in charge of Scottish Labour

April 25 2016

Kezia Dugdale has insisted she will stay on as Scottish Labour leader, even if she steers her party to third place in next week’s Holyrood election. The former Harris Academy pupil has found herself under fire with polls making for grim reading for party supporters and anonymous politicians briefing against her in Sunday newspapers. Some sources said they expect former deputy leader Anas Sarwar to launch a leadership challenge in once he becomes an MSP, while there has also been speculation that Neil Findlay, an ally of UK leader Jeremy Corbyn, could make a play for the job. But, during a TV interview, Ms Dugdale insisted: “Even if that were to happen (Labour finishing behind the Conservatives), I would absolutely continue in post. “I have always said I have a long term plan to turn around the fortunes of the Scottish Labour Party.” The Sunday Times reported one Labour politician diagnosing the party’s problems: “It’s Corbyn. It’s Kezia. It’s our tax policy. It’s our left-wing socialist platform and it’s the s*** campaign we’re running.” SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: “Labour’s campaign so far has been characterised by a series of splits, gaffes and policy disasters - so it’s perhaps no wonder that it seems that senior Labour figures now have the knives out for their party’s leader.” Meanwhile, Ms Dugdale will today unveil plans to extend The Minor Ailment Service (MAS) to everyone. Currently, 900,000 people are registered for this service, with around half of the Scottish population unable to access the service because of eligibility criteria. MAS allows eligible individuals to register with, and use, a community pharmacy as the first port of call for the treatment of a common illness or condition on the NHS. These include conditions such as acne and ear ache. Registered patients can present at any point with symptoms and the pharmacist will treat, advise or refer them to another health care practitioner where appropriate.


Council Election 2017: West End (Ward 3)

April 24 2017

Only one of the West End's four current councillors is not seeking re-election in the ward come May 4, with Vari McDonald of the SNP choosing to stand instead in The Ferry. Nine candidates will compete for four available council seats, with representatives of each of the main political parties running, and independent, socialist and Green party candidates also standing. The West End comprises Balgay, Blackness, Hawkhill, Logie, Ninewells, Riverside and Sinderins. The SNP have put forward two candidates – current councillor Bill Campbell and newcomer Steven Rome – and are the only party to do so. Representing Labour and the Co-Operative party is Richard McCready, who has served as a councillor since 2007. Lib Dem representative Fraser Macpherson has sat on Dundee City Council since 2001. High on the list of concerns for West End residents are problems with on-street parking and the possible closure of Perth Road police station. Such is the concern over the station's future, MSPs from Scottish Labour and the Conservatives have raised the issue at Holyrood. With an active and vociferous community council, successful candidates will need to continue to press the council about concerns over commuters using the ward as a "free car park". As the ward containing Ninewells, the use of surrounding streets by people avoiding paying for the hospital car park is driving people crazy, according to the West End Community Council. Two of the four current non-SNP councillors have served in previous administrations, with Fraser Macpherson (Lib Dem) having served on the council since 2001 and Richard McCready (Labour) since 2007. Even Scottish Conservative candidate Donald Hay has experience as an elected member, having served as a West End representative between 2007-2012. .   Candidate profiles The Courier invited each candidate to submit a short introduction to themselves and, if they wished, a video explaining why they deserve your vote.   Bradley Booth (independent) I was born and grew up here. I went to school and university here. I’ve come to know many residents of this ward, and I would love the opportunity to serve them. I believe the only way to fully represent your constituents is to be an independent. The only people an independent answers to is the people of his or her ward, whereas the party candidates answer to their party superiors, and then to those who elected them. If elected I will fight for better mental health services, safer streets, and better parking to help our local businesses.   Bill Campbell (SNP) Bill Campbell was elected as a councillor for the West End Ward in 2012, and said he has handled hundreds of constituents’ cases including housing, parking, schooling, refuse and social matters. He served as depute convener of city development for the last administration. He said: "I would be honoured to be re-elected as one of your West End Ward councillors and would serve you with the same dedication and commitment that I have already clearly demonstrated as a councillor and as part of the SNP administration between 2012 and 2017."   Donald Hay (Conservative) I have worked at NHS Tayside for over 30 years, currently at Ninewells Hospital. During 2007-2012, I was councillor for West End, where I gained a positive reputation for hard work and dedication, something I will continue if elected. I served on the board of Dundee Rep and was a former governor of Dundee Educational Trust. I'm currently involved in the Friends of Balgay and Friends of the University of Dundee Botanic Garden, as chair and vice-chair, respectively.   Fraser Macpherson (Lib Dem) Fraser Macpherson has been a councillor for the West End on Dundee City Council since 2001. Fraser has served as the council’s finance convener, education convener and planning and transport convener. He said: "I have a proven track record of being a hugely active and committed representative for the West End and produces the local West End Focus newsletter to keep in touch with local residents, now up to its 98th edition. "I promise to continue to work hard for everyone in the West End, year in, year out."   Andrew McBride (Independent Network) Andrew McBride has lived in the city’s West End for more than 20 years, and has served as the chairman of the West End Community Council. He is running as part of the Independent Network, which was set up by former MP Martin Bell. Andrew said: "(Having) represented the community council on the West End Community Planning Partnership, I have experience dealing with council officers, senior officers from the police, the fire service and the NHS, as well as representatives from various community and faith groups active in the area. "I wish to serve to the people of the west end ward and that is it in a nutshell – elected to serve."     Richard McCready (Labour and Co-Operative Party) I have worked hard for the people of the West End, holding surgeries in four locations across the ward. I put the West End first and I'm campaigning to ensure that the police station on Perth Road is maintained. I am also campaigning to protect the Perth Road district shopping area. I want to make sure that the investment at the Waterfront brings real, good quality jobs for people in Dundee. We must also ensure that the money invested at the waterfront is meaningful for everyone in Dundee. As an opposition councillor I have holding the administration and officers to account and worked hard for my constituents. I want the best for my community and will continue to work hard and put the West End first.   Morgan Petrie (Green) Having worked in the creative industries for the last 30 years, I’m impressed by the way Dundee has integrated culture into its planning. The V&A and the redevelopment of the waterfront is the culmination of that approach. That’s to be applauded, but as the city focuses on redeveloping the centre, the West End is being neglected. Perth Road is suffering from a degraded bus service and too many empty shops. With 25 of the 29 city councillors being either SNP or Labour there’s a real lack of political diversity and alternative views being presented. I recognise that the primary duty of any councillor is to provide a service to residents of the ward and I’d like to do that by bringing new, community-focused, Green ideas to the city.   Steven Rome (SNP) I am thrilled to be standing to be your councillor for Dundee West End in the elections for local government. I have lived, worked and studied in Dundee all my life except for an academic year spent at Grenoble University in France. I graduated from Dundee University with a degree in contemporary European studies and am currently working in the West End. In my spare time I have been actively involved with the running of my hockey club as a team captain, club fundraising coordinator, match secretary and a youth coach. During my studies I was a member, and latterly president, of the Dundee University Debating Union, which meant I was responsible for recruiting and training new members, liaising with university staff and organising our internal competitions. I would consider it a privilege to represent the West End as part of an ambitious administration, determined to do the best for Dundee.   Tam Wilson (Scottish Socialist Party) I'm Tam Wilson, a socialist activist living and working in the West End. As one of the Dundee Against Cuts in all eight wards, I want Dundee's council budget to be set on the basis of need, not austerity, and for our communities to be mobilised to fight for the funding we need to deliver first-class services. I work at two primary schools in the West End, meaning I've seen the impact of education cuts first-hand. I've spoken to parents whose kids are struggling to get and eat their lunch at Harris Academy because of overcrowding. The Scottish Socialist Party were first to point out this consequence of closing Menzieshill High School. I've recently been elected President of Abertay Student Association, making me the best-placed candidate to represent students. Combined with my experience as an activist, I know what it'll take to represent working class people in the West End.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.