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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.

Business news

950,000 households hit as ScottishPower hikes prices by 5.5%

April 20 2018

ScottishPower is increasing energy prices in a move that will affect 950,000 households.The company is hiking its standard variable gas and electricity prices for around a third of its customers from 1 June, with impacted households facing an average increase of 5.5%.ScottishPower attributed the rise to an increase in wholesale energy costs, alongside costs associated with upgrading meters and delivering electricity from low-carbon sources.Neil Clitheroe, global retail director at Iberdrola, which owns ScottishPower, said: “We will be contacting all customers affected by the price change to give them the opportunity to move to a fixed price tariff alternative and avoid this increase.” The company said the proportion of its customers on standard variable tariffs will fall throughout 2018 because the company will no longer shift customers onto the standard variable rate when their fixed-term products come to an end.Victoria Arrington, a spokeswoman for Energyhelpline, said ScottishPower’s price rise was the most substantial announced so far from the energy sector.Both British Gas and EDF unveiled price hikes last week, raising their standard variable rates by 5.5% and 1.4% respectively.The series of announcements means a total 6.35 million households have been saddled with price rises in the new financial year.“The energy price rise wave is full on at this point – the majority of the Big Six have now announced price rises happening within the coming weeks,” she said.“ScottishPower’s rise is only the latest of the stinging hikes eating into the pay cheques of people across the UK and this is the biggest price rise so far from a major supplier.”ScottishPower booked a 53% drop in annual retail supply earnings to 139.1 million euro (£121.9 million) last year as customer numbers fell by 200,000 to 5.1 million.The firm pinned the blame on higher costs hitting UK electricity margins, while its gas arm struggled in response to warmer weather in 2017.

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

News

ADVERTISING FEATURE: Bank of Scotland has a range of options to help you make the most of your ISA allowance

April 2 2012

When you’re putting money away for something, be it a fairytale wedding, a dream holiday or just a little safety net for the future, you want your hard-earned savings to really work for you. And if circumstances change it’s good to know that you can access your money quickly, whenever you need to. Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are one of the most popular and tax efficient ways to save. A wide range of ISAs are available, which can be grouped into two main types: Cash ISAs and Stocks and Shares ISAs. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may change. Cash ISAs allow you to save for something special and receive interest with no tax taken off. They provide either a fixed or variable rate of interest on your savings. And some cash ISAs even allow you to withdraw your money quickly, in case of an emergency, rainy day or big purchase. Stocks and Shares ISAs can be a tax efficient way to save, if you’re prepared to invest your money for at least five to ten years to help average out the highs and lows of the stock market. Their returns depend on the performance of the assets they invest in. With Stocks and Shares ISAs, their value can go down as well as up and you could get back less than you put in. In the 2012/2013 tax year you can save up to £5,640 in a cash ISA. Alternatively you can invest the full £11,280 ISA allowance in to a Stocks and Shares ISA, less any amounts you plan to save in a Cash ISA in the same tax year. Whatever you want to save for, Bank of Scotland offer a range of tax efficient ISAs to choose from. What’s more, their cash ISAs include accounts that give you quick and easy access to your money or allow you to save for a fixed interest rate. Access Cash ISAWe all like to put something away for the future but when circumstances change you may want quick access to your savings. A Bank of Scotland Access Cash ISA offers a variable rate of interest and can be opened with as little as £1. Moreover an Access Cash ISA lets you withdraw money whenever you like. You just need to remember that once you’ve put in your full year’s cash ISA allowance, if you take any money out, you can’t add any more back in until the new tax year. FIND OUT MORE Fixed Rate Cash ISAIf you’d prefer to leave your money to grow for one year or longer, the Bank of Scotland Fixed Cash ISA gives you a fixed rate of interest. It’s simple to open and you can start saving from £500. With this ISA, you can’t withdraw or add any additional money during the term and if you decide to close it early, it would be subject to a loss of interest charge. FIND OUT MORE Stocks and Shares ISAA Stocks and Shares ISA from Bank of Scotland provided by Scottish Widows could be a tax efficient way to save if you’re happy to invest your money over the longer term (at least five to ten years). It gives you the option to invest a lump sum of at least £1,000 or set up a regular payment of at least £150 per month. As with any investment, the value of your investment could go down as well as up, and you could get back less than you put in. FIND OUT MORE Bank of Scotland Cash ISA PromiseIf you’d like to switch your cash ISA to Bank of Scotland, you will also receive their ISA Promise. They’re making two commitments to help you make more of your savings: 1: When you switch your cash ISA to them, they’ll pay interest from day one of your application provided your funds are free to move. You don’t have to wait for your current provider to process the paperwork so you won’t lose one day of tax free interest. 2: They’ll keep you informed: while switching your cash ISA to them; when your reward or fixed rate cash ISA offer is coming to an end; of your cash ISAs interest rate. Find out more about how Bank of Scotland ISAs can help you make the most of your ISA allowance and start your plans for tomorrow, today. For an easy to read guide to all terms relating to Bank of Scotland cash ISAs, click here. Important information Cash ISAs are only available to individuals who are aged 16 and over and Stocks and Shares ISAs are only available to individuals aged 18 and over. In both cases, individuals must be resident and ordinarily resident in the UK for tax purposes. Tax free interest is the contractual rate of interest payable where interest is exempt from income tax. Bank of Scotland investments are managed by Scottish Widows, part of Lloyds Banking Group. Scottish Widows Stocks and Shares ISAs invest via the Scottish Widows OEIC funds. Full terms and conditions and a copy of the most up-to-date Key Features are available on request or by visiting www.scottishwidows.co.uk/docs/SW58107.pdf Please remember, you can only pay into one cash ISA and/or one Stocks and Shares ISA during the tax year; so, if you pay into a cash ISA with Bank of Scotland, you will not be able to pay into another cash ISA with them or any other provider in the same tax year. However, you can transfer cash ISA balances from other providers into your Bank of Scotland Cash ISA. Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. We are members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Information correct as at April 2012.

Business news

Call for aid as retailers face ‘perfect storm’

March 23 2017

The Scottish Retail Consortium has called for urgent rates reform as a leading tech entrepreneur said the sector was in the eye of a “perfect storm.” Mallzee fashion app founder Cally Russell said his firm’s own data and soundings from industry had left him convinced that 2017 was going to be one of the hardest years for 20 years. He said pressure on all three key industry overheads – products, staffing and store costs – were conspiring to create a toxic environment for retailers. The award winning Dundee University graduate – named in the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list of upcoming entrepreneurs – said it was a dangerous time for retail. “Normally when something goes wrong in a sector it’s been driven by one variable,” Mr Russell said. “In retail right now all three cost variables are increasing at a time when consumer spending is reducing. “Undoubtedly a dangerous combination. Actually, it’s a lethal combination if not tackled correctly.” Mr Russell said the retail sector had to “think smarter” and stop trying to solve “digital problems with analogue solutions.” He said: “With margin being slashed we need to think about the products that we sell, who we sell to and for how much. “To do this there needs to be a mindset change. “We need to stop seeing discounting as the only saviour when times are hard and instead start optimising what we’ve got a lot more efficiently, or even better start ensuring the product we do stock is fitted to our target demographic. “Only by taking these steps will we be able to protect ourselves from the storm approaching.” Scottish Retail Consortium head of policy, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, said the sector faced formidable challenges. “Our retail sales figures show sales fell again in February, and with inflation rising and higher council taxes from next month there is no doubt this will put a strain on the disposable incomes of Scottish consumers,” he said. “However, retailers are also faced with the fall in the value of Sterling and increasing costs from business rates and the Apprenticeship Levy. “That is a bitter cocktail of cost increases for hard pressed high streets. “The Scottish Government’s decision to not raise income tax rates looks more prescient every month. “However, there is more they can do by reforming rates, restoring the level playing field on the large rates supplement, and supporting investment which would help cushion these challenges for retailers.”

Wolves fan tricked into being Brentford mascot on his stag do

January 16 2018

A Wolves fan got quite the surprise on his stag do when his friends signed him up as the matchday mascot for Brentford. Nick Goff, a professional gambler who is getting married in Barbados next week, said he had no idea what was in store for him after being told to be in Chiswick at 11am on Saturday morning. On the pitch with Buzz Bee and the other (9yo) mascots…… pic.twitter.com/KDGkHvze2E— Jim Boyle Racing (@jimboyle17) January 13, 2018 “I’m the last one of my group of friends to get married, I’m 38 and told them I’m too old for a stag do and didn’t want one,” he said. “They disagreed and said I had to have one. “My guess was we were going to Kempton races as we’re mostly bookmakers or professional gamblers. “Then we got to Brentford, they gave me a full kit to wear but I thought that was all.” But that was far from all, and within a few hours he was leading the Bees out at Griffin Park for their Championship game with Bolton. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));What happens when you are a Wolverhampton Wanderers FC fan and your mates stitch you up on your stag go?This does 👇Posted by Brentford FC on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 “They took me to the main reception and was met by a man who asked if I was the mascot,” he said. “I thought they were joking. Then they took me up to the hospitality area with all the other nine-year-old mascots. Bit awkward! But made sure I didn’t do anything to spoil their big day,” he said. On seeing his mate on the pitch, friend Jim Boyle, 44, a racehorse trainer who organised the stunt with a group of friends, tweeted: “Weeks of planning have finally come to fruition.” Weeks of planning have finally come to fruition pic.twitter.com/vZjeaQN4Te— Jim Boyle Racing (@jimboyle17) January 13, 2018 Mr Boyle said: “We weren’t sure Brentford would go with it, but they’ve been great sports all along.” Brentford later posted a video of the whole affair and Mr Goff, from Epsom, said: “The Brentford off the field team were all amazing, made sure everything ran smoothly and that it didn’t interfere with the day for the “real” mascots.” Goffy meets a Brentford legend #WeThinkHisNameIsJackieGrahame pic.twitter.com/DdH8G1Yoqu— Jim Boyle Racing (@jimboyle17) January 13, 2018 “[I] did a little warm up on the pitch, took a few shots – walloped an unstoppable one past the keeper into the top corner, obviously, then led the teams out onto the pitch much to the amusement and bewilderment of some of the players. The Brentford captain didn’t want to hold my hand sadly.” Asked how the rest of the club’s on-field staff reacted, Mr Goff said: “On the pitch I definitely spotted a few players trying not to laugh but no one said anything.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Stephen Jones, Press Association Social Media Editor'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '581f6950-fd87-49d6-9cf2-0f90bc017d4c'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:sport,paservice:sport:football,paservice:viral,paservice:viral:sport'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', 'sport:football'); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Wolves fan tricked into being Brentford mascot on his stag do'});

Dundee

Mary McLaren murder accused appears at preliminary hearing

April 7 2011

The man accused of raping and murdering Dundee mum Mary McLaren will stand trial early next month. Patrick James Rae (41), a prisoner at Perth, appeared from custody at the high court in Edinburgh at a preliminary hearing. Rae denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10, 2010. At the hearing defence advocate Mark Stewart QC lodged an updated witness list and a list of productions. Mr Stewart also outlined a number of outstanding issues that he moved could be dealt with on the trial date of Tuesday, May 3. There was no objection from advocate depute David Young QC, who also noted a number of procedural issues still to be resolved on the same date. Lord Tyre, who intimated he would preside over the trial, continued the case to the trial diet, for which six weeks have been set aside. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee he assaulted Mrs McLaren, of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, restricting her breathing and murdering her. He also denies that between February 25 and March 15, 2010, at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument, disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker – which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes – the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

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.

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