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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

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

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

Readers' letters

July 4: Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf ears

July 4 2011

Today’s letters to The Courier. Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf earsSir,-One could almost feel the pride throughout J.J. Marshall’s column about Morgan Academy, Dundee. What a pity he, and all the other former pupils, are not prepared to do something about the Morgan gravestone in the Howff. Some nine years ago The Nine Trades found it in a disgraceful state. They spent a great deal of money having new pillars cut and the stone repaired and replaced. The stone, however, needs the inscription re-cut. We obtained a quote of some £1300 for the work and committed the sum of £300 to start things off. Despite repeated pleas, often in your paper, for money to make up the balance, we have only had one response, a cheque from one grateful past pupil for £40. So much for the great pride Morgan pupils have in their old school. Work that out at a cost per proud pupil and it is less than a loaf of bread. Some pride. Innes A. Duffus.Dundee.Law Society stayed quietSir,-It must be really demoralising for law students, especially graduates trying to complete their articles and many still seeking employment, to see their profession being further denigrated. I would have thought that, even with its blemishes, the Scottish Law Society would be more than capable of dealing with any criminal case or human rights issue without any outside intervention. Whether politics were involved or not, I remember in 2009 the lord chancellor was one of the main instigators of the Supreme Court. At that time only three High Court judges from Scotland were appointed. With an issue proving so important to our nation, was there even a murmur at any level from the Scottish Law Society? In a constantly changing world perhaps now is the time for a re-appraisal of the Law Society and its role. James M. Fraser.39 High Street,Leven.Pension grumbles overstatedSir,-This morning’s editorial (June 29) was spot on when it claimed the public-sector pension issue should have been addressed by the Labour government in 2005 when they memorably funked it. Increased longevity makes impossible continuance of an unreformed system. A 3% increase in contributions and a retirement age of 66 is not the end of the world. The professions tend to overestimate the income they will need in retirement and my kirk pension of £12,000 after 35 years, plus my state pension, has proved fine. My medical brothers received over four times that amount and retirement at 60 but I found the closing years before retirement at just past 65 the most rewarding of my entire career. As long as the poorer-paid public sector workers are protected, I think the better-off professionals with school fees and mortgages long past should keep a grip on reality. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Not the saviours they pretendSir,-The SNP’s Alex Orr (June 27) is right to highlight Scotland’s marginally better public spending deficit as compared to the UK generally, but at least the Westminster government has acknowledged the need to get it under control. However, the SNP wants to see a Scotland with fiscal policies like slashed corporation tax, significantly reduced fuel duty and tax breaks for favoured sectors such as computer games. The SNP is clearly reluctant to raise income tax or council taxes, or to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. But it makes lavish spending commitments. It surely ill behoves the Nationalists to favourably compare Scotland’s deficit to that of the UK. No wonder the SNP is so keen for Scotland to have borrowing powers. Mr Orr highlights the role of oil revenues in an independent Scotland. But this merely underlines yet another future drain on Scotland’s public purse, namely the subsidy-hungry renewables industry. There would also be a stealth tax in the form of rocketing energy bills. The SNP’s attempts to depict themselves as the planet’s environmental saviours, while at the same time portraying oil as the key to Scotland’s future, shows that the party wants to have its renewables cake and eat it. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fairtrade status undermined Sir,-I note with interest your article (June 28) about Scotland being on course to become the world’s second Fair Trade nation. Having been on the original working group which helped set up the Scottish Fair Trade Forum back in 2006, I think it would be wonderful to see this goal being achieved. Dundee became a Fairtrade City in March 2004, the first in Scotland, but this status needs to be renewed. That is currently under threat because, unlike other local authorities, Dundee City Council does not automatically provide Fairtrade catering for meetings. It would be a great shame if Scotland’s Fair Trade nation accolade were denied because its first Fairtrade city lost its status. Sally Romilly.4 Westwood Terrace,Newport-on-Tay. Leuchars still at riskSir,-The fact that the MoD has spent millions on RAF Leuchars is no guarantee of saviour. Remember that a new hangar complex was built for rescue helicopters of 22 Squadron, only for the RAF to disband the flight. Stephen Pickering.19 Abbey Court,St Andrews.

Business news

CJ Lang to fore at Scottish Wholesale Achievers awards

February 14 2015

Long-established Dundee-based CJ Lang & Son has been named the best wholesale business at the prestigious Scottish Wholesale Achievers awards. The showpiece event organised by the Scottish Wholesale Association recognises professionalism and excellence across all sectors of the industry in Scotland. CJ Lang owns 120 Spar stores and supplies a further 200 independent Spar outlets north of the border. It fended off stiff competition to win the Champion of Champions award, sponsored by tobacco firm Philip Morris. The family-owned company also lifted the Best Symbol Group and Best Delivered Operation categories, sponsored by soft drinks firm Cott and Imperial Tobacco UK respectively. It was runner-up in Best Marketing Initiative at Achievers sponsored by Taylors of Harrogate for its ‘Shop & Win’ campaign to drive footfall in its customers’ Spar stores. Judges pointed to CJ Lang’s “passion and commitment to their business”. Karen Murray, regional sales manager at Philip Morris, said: “The market is very competitive in Scotland, and this year’s champion of champions displayed a great winning mindset throughout, demonstrating best practice in many areas. “This wholesaler is clearly always looking to improve its business.” Kate Salmon, executive director of the Scottish Wholesale Association, commented: “This is an outstanding result for CJ Lang, one of our sector’s leading independent, family-owned business. “The company has set a very high benchmark for our industry, and we should all be inspired by its desire to keep on improving standards.” “CJ Lang has shown that it is not afraid to embrace change by adopting new technologies and using them to its best advantage. It is a wholesaler that is bold and confident about the future of our industry, and that truly is something to celebrate.” Almost 500 people attended the Achievers gala dinner and awards presentation, hosted by broadcaster, columnist and TV presenter Cat Cubie at the Sheraton Grand, Edinburgh. In its business CJ Lang & Son celebrated a modest increase in turnover last year and said the outlook for the next 12 months is positive. Despite continued difficult trading conditions, the Spar Scotland convenience store supplier’s revenue crept up 0.9% to £194.7 million due to opening more stores. The expansion accounted for an increase in operating costs, which rose 0.7% to £151m. The fall in pre-tax profit reduced, and in the last year it was down 11% at £1.12m, less than the previous year’s 36.3% fall to £1.26m. Based in Dundee since 1919, CJ Lang & Son is Scotland’s largest independent retailing and distribution company.

Farming news

Pilot electronic tagging scheme for cattle gets industry backing

December 23 2017

Nine Scottish livestock organisations have committed to getting a voluntary electronic tagging (EID) pilot scheme in place by the end of 2018. The stakeholder groups in favour of the move include meat wholesalers, dairy and beef cattle associations, the farmers’ union and auctioneers. They say they want Scotland to be prepared for the inevitable introduction of electronic tags and ensure any scheme that is devised is best suited to the needs of the Scottish industry. However, the stakeholder group chairman, NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick, admitted that any system that was adopted would need to be compatible with schemes in the rest of the UK. “We can’t have a different system,” he said. The Scottish Government has already committed to supporting an EID pilot, which Mr McCornick said was vital to making it happen. He added: “We believe that ScotEID is best placed to develop the pilot proposals and we are currently awaiting further detail from it on what it proposes for the early stages of the pilot. “Our ambition is to see this pilot become a reality in 2018 and we will work closely with all stakeholders to best address any concerns and establish the clear benefits of using modern technology for cattle identification. “Electronic tags and collars are already prevalent on some dairy and beef enterprises for management purposes and we want to identify a solution that allows the benefits that these businesses are already seeing to be shared across the whole supply chain.” The aim is to see a pilot launched around the time of the Highland Show in June, with electronic tags ultimately making paper passports obsolete. Mr McCornick added that a pilot should be open to anyone who wanted to be in it, and tags would be similar to those used at the moment but with the addition of an electronic chip. nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

Dundee

Los Angeles Times names V&A Dundee among five best new museums to visit in world

February 19 2018

The forthcoming V&A Dundee has been named as one of the top five new museums to visit in the world in 2018 by a major US newspaper. The Los Angeles Times named the £81 million waterfront attraction, which is due to open on September 15, at the top of its list of "new museums to explore" in 2018. Others cited in the travel article include Seattle's new Nordic Heritage Museum, the South Carolina Historical Society Museum in Charleston. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/574567/dundee-named-alongside-los-angeles-singapore-florence-patagonia-bloomberg-top-22-world-destinations/ The article states: "London's V&A Museum, once called the Victoria and Albert, traces its roots back to 1851. This year, V&A Dundee will open Sept. 15 on the east coast of Scotland as the first satellite museum to bear the name. "The remarkable building made with more than 2,000 cast-stone panels looks like a stylised ship floating on the River Tay. Scottish design — architecture, ceramics, jewellery, textiles and more — will be the focus. The opening show is 'Ocean Liners: Speed and Style.'" It comes after both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal cited the V&A as they named Dundee among the top destinations to visit in the world in 2018. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/600476/top-design-magazine-awards-superstructure-va-dundee-architecture-gong/ For more on this story, read Tuesday's Courier

Readers' letters

April 8: Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers

April 8 2011

This morning’s letters look at the River Tay beavers and wildlife management, taxation, fuel prices, and road safety in Fife. Lessons we can learn from River Tay beavers Sir,-I read with interest your article ‘Call for halt to beaver damage’ (April 6) regarding the acceleration of beaver damage on the lower River Earn, reported to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) by an angler. As with other wildlife, most notably deer, whether the felled trees are viewed as damage or not is only really the concern of the landowner involved. SNH maintain that it is legal for landowners to kill or remove beavers if they deem it necessary so, officially, there is no problem here. If the landowner thinks he has a problem, SNH say he can do something about it. Others will dispute this and the legal position does require to be clarified. This is why the River Tay beavers are important. They will force us to address these issues much sooner than the official Scottish Government reintroduction of beavers into Argyll and everyone will benefit from that, whatever their views on beavers might be. There is little point in calling for a halt to the beaver damage as the Tay beavers do not read The Courier. What we need is a pragmatic approach from government to this issue which allows us to learn how these animals will interact with other land uses and provides landowners with a workable mechanism for dealing with problem situations. Ultimately, all our wildlife should be managed locally according to local circumstances and sensitivities, not by a centralised quango in Inverness. Scottish Natural Heritage are all over the place on this issue and do not have the answers. We will have to look elsewhere for those. Victor Clements.1 Crieff Road,Aberfeldy. Victorian species cull Sir,-I agree in part with Eric McVicar’s letter (April 5) about culling non-indigenous species but he shows a severe lack of knowledge in some areas. For example, beavers are a native species, as are bears and wolves. The absence of these animals is solely down to Victorian bloodlust, which saw the eradication of a vast number of species worldwide simply to amuse bored aristocrats. This has left us with a red deer population held on estates causing genetic diversity issues and out of control numbers, due to the lack of natural predators. I believe he is referring to Japanese knotweed, not Japanese hogweed. If Mr McVicar is a teacher then I fear for his pupils as he seems to be giving out wrong information and failing to teach them to check their facts. (Mr) J. Phillip.3 Lyninghills,Forfar. March of indirect taxation Sir,-Your editorial (April 5) and related article on the launch of the Scottish Conservative election manifesto for Holyrood misses an important fact. The fees or graduate contribution to the sum of £4000 is for every year of study. Parents and students can do the maths. Common sense it may be for Conservatives but, for those affected, it will feel very much like indirect taxation much favoured, as many of your readers will recall, by the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. Motorists need fuel transparency Sir,-We were conned in the Budget last month. The petrol companies had predicted the one penny reduction and had already upped the price by three or four pence. So is it now possible for the UK Government to do two specific things to regain some credibility? First tell the fuel retailers to instantly removed the ridiculous 0.99 they tag on at the end of their main price and, second, make it a rule to give the displayed price per gallon and not per litre. After all, cars in particular are sold with predicted miles per gallon consumption (admittedly often optimistic) not miles per litre. And if motorists were to see immediately the true cost of fuel for their car, instead of ridiculously having to multiply the litre price by 4.546 to find out, they would most certainly be more cautious with their travels and work a lot harder at reducing petrol/diesel consumption. Having been conned a few weeks ago, vehicle owners are surely entitled to some honesty now. Ian Wheeler.Springfield,Cupar. Wind farm risk to road users Sir,-I feel compelled to reply to your article regarding Fife’s fatal road crashes. With 10 out of 13 fatal crashes in 2010 happening on rural roads, the most common contributory factor given in your article was failure to observe the road properly. My concerns are related to the plans submitted to Fife Council for the giant wind turbines on Clatto Hill. The road that runs adjacent to the proposed site is the C30. This rural road demands your full attention and concentration while driving in either direction. With the road being narrow, it requires even medium-sized cars to slow down or pull in when passing. The road has several vertical crests and sharp vertical curvatures which would make the turbines appear suddenly then disappear just as quickly. As this road has seen many accidents over a number of years, this would surely add another driving distraction to an already dangerous road. Norman Moodie.Craigview,Clatto Farm,Cupar. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Dundee

Margaret Curran says Labour needs to hold ‘honest conversation’ with Scots voters

March 7 2013

Labour must gain people’s trust if it wants to win back ground lost to the SNP in Dundee, the shadow secretary for Scotland has admitted. Margaret Curran said having an “honest conversation” with voters about how to improve living standards and tackle economic problems was the route the party would take in an attempt to recover from a Scottish decimation over recent years. At one point, all Dundee’s Parliamentary representatives and the city council were Labour-controlled. Now, though, the local authority is an SNP majority and the only national Labour politicians in the city are Dundee West MP Jim McGovern and list MSP Jenny Marra. In an interview with The Courier ahead of a question and answer session at Discovery Point tonight at 7pm, Ms Curran also claimed Labour’s energy plans would save over 15,000 pensioners in the city up to £200 a year on gas and electricity bills. She said: “Dundee really matters to us and we really want to win back support and trust in Dundee. There’s no hiding the fact Scottish Labour has been through a difficult period and now the challenge is re-engaging and gathering trust. “I think the most important thing is to be honest with people, hear what people are saying and respond to their issues. The point is about having answers to the biggest challenges and we need to have an honest conversation with people.” Labour plans to scrap Ofgem the energy regulator it set up and create a new watchdog with a statutory duty to monitor wholesale and retail energy prices. The new body would also have the power to force energy suppliers to pass on price cuts when the cost of wholesale energy falls and there would be a legal requirement for energy companies to put all over-75s on their cheapest tariff. “Ofgem is not living up to the challenges of the current time since the years when we set it up,” said Ms Curran. “In Government you need to understand when circumstances change you have to change with it. “At the core of this, we have to reform the markets. With the big six, when wholesale prices shoot up all bills go up but when wholesale prices drop prices don’t come down and that is crippling families. “People are asking how do they heat their homes? How do they pay for food or bills? We need active intervention in the energy markets.” Ms Curran, who branded the so-called Bedroom Tax “unfair” said the next UK General Election would be a “living standards election” and claimed people will have seen several years of falling living standards by the time the vote comes round. She claimed Labour’s policy to reinstate the 10p tax rate introduced then scrapped under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown would benefit 2.2 million basic rate taxpayers in Scotland. Ms Curran would not confirm what further powers would be devolved to Scotland in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum but it is understood that Labour’s Devolution Commission will publish their first interim report at their Scottish conference in April. * Today’s newspaper edition wrongly stated that Ms Curran’s Discovery Point Q&A was held on Wednesday. We would like to confirm that it takes place tonight, March 7.

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