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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…

Business news

Stack Leisure Park problems continue

June 3 2010

Administrators who took over Lochee’s Stack Leisure Park more than six months ago are still struggling to attract a buyer or tenants for the failed £50 million venture. Zolfo Cooper has been continuing to operate the park for the benefit of the two remaining tenants, Gala Bingo and the Megabowl 10-pin bowling alley. It has also been trying to find someone willing to take over the site in the wake of the financial difficulties that put paid to the development plans of previous owners Landteam Northern (Dundee) Ltd. A spokesman for Zolfo Cooper would only say, “The administrators are in ongoing discussions with third parties with regards to their interest in the site.” Dundee City Council granted planning consent to Landteam Northern for a retail development in 2006, but uncertainty about Tesco’s long-term commitment to its Stack store the company moved to a new South Road outlet early last year was enough to give prospective tenants second thoughts. The credit crunch then put paid to a housing scheme involving Aberdeen builders Stewart Milne Homes. The city council has embarked on a £2 million regeneration package for Lochee High Street using cash from a Scottish Government fund. Among the uses being considered for the park by the administrators are housing and a health centre.


Redevelopment of Dundee’s Stack could take leap forward

July 1 2013

The redevelopment of the Stack Leisure Park in Lochee appears poised to take a leap forward. A council document has revealed that homeware, furniture and DIY chain the Range could be taking over the former Tesco supermarket. Planning permission has also been granted for part of what used to be a 10-pin bowling alley to be turned into an 18,000 sq ft foodstore. The Stack’s owner TJ Morris has been keen to find new tenants for the empty buildings on the site, which has suffered years of decline, and its masterplan has already been backed by the council. It has earmarked the western section of the old Megabowl for one of its own Home Bargains stores, which is due to open soon. Work is also under way on revamping the car park. Securing an operator for Tesco’s old premises is a key element of the masterplan. The Range was founded by Plymouth entrepreneur Chris Dawson and it now has dozens of stores across England and Wales. It is about to open its first Scottish outlet in Glasgow. Asked if it could confirm its interest in the Stack, a spokeswoman for the company said: “We cannot comment on this at the moment.” Tesco’s departure from the Stack, when it opened a larger store in South Road, was a body blow to the leisure park. It had initially boasted a cinema, nightclub and several restaurants, but latterly only a bingo hall has remained open. It was a city council planning officer’s report on the Megabowl foodstore plan that named the Range as the future occupant of the former Tesco in Methven Street, which links the Stack to Lochee High Street. In a submission accompanying the application for planning permission, property agent GVA, acting for TJ Morris, said only: “They are in the process of negotiating with prospective tenants, one of which is a non-food retailer.” But the planning officer said: “The former Tesco superstore is to be occupied by the Range, which is predominantly a non-food retailer. “TJ Morris has submitted a detailed masterplan for the Stack outlining a broad strategy for a cohesive, mixed-use sustainable development which will complement Lochee district centre. “Discussions are ongoing to create an active street frontage on to Methven Street to encourage shoppers to move between the district centre and the Stack.” The original planning permission for the former Megabowl did not allow food sales. GVA said the site owners wanted to change this because there was no unit of a similar size in Lochee High Street that could provide customers with choice in food shopping. It went on: “The proposal is clearly complementary to the district centre’s overall offer, particularly given the applicant’s proposal to improve connectivity along Methven Street by finding an active use for the former Tesco. “The continued regeneration of the Stack through a further refurbished and occupied retail unit will offer benefits to the district centre by increasing its offer for local customers.” The council planning officer said that allowing part of the Megabowl to become a food store would not undermine the vitality or viability of Lochee High Street, which is itself undergoing a major redevelopment. Rather the application could be granted on the grounds that the proposals would “significantly enhance the vibrancy” of the Stack and the High Street, he added.

Business news

Councillors urged to back ‘exciting’ Sports Direct Fitness plans for Stack Leisure Park

May 25 2015

Plans for sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley’s £5 million Sports Direct Fitness store and gym at Dundee’s Stack Leisure Park are expected to be considered by the city council next month. The development is to mark a further stage of the revival of the Lochee landmark dominated by the historic Cox’s Stack. If given the green light, the outlet will become the first in Scotland and is expected to bring 96 jobs to the city. It is on the site of the former Venue nightclub, which has lain empty for more than 20 years. Other features of the original Stack park included a Tesco supermarket, cinema, bingo hall, ten-pin bowling hall and bar. Most of the businesses closed as Lochee went into decline, and the park struggled to attract new investment. Three years ago the Stack park was bought by TJ Morris. A spokesman said in a short space of time they have turned the complex round with their investment in terms of visitors, appearance and economic activity. The park has become a success story, they said, with the arrival of new Home Bargains (TJ Morris’s own retail brand), Aldi and The Range retailer joining the Gala bingo hall. Improvements have also been made to the public realm, car parking and pedestrian routes linking the park with Lochee High Street. The Sports Direct Fitness proposal would see a former nightclub converted with 30,000 sq ft of sports retail on the ground floor and a 30,000 sq ft gym on a mezzanine level. A TJ Morris spokesman said: “This represents one of the final remaining pieces of the jigsaw to help us complete the Stack’s regeneration and integration with Lochee High Street. “We urge the elected members to support these exciting plans for Lochee and Dundee.”


Councillor demands action over Lochee “midden”

October 3 2016

A Dundee councillor has called for a clear-up of the Stack Leisure Park after a mound of rubbish was left to fester on land behind the derelict Venue nightclub building. Ironically, the dump is on land directly adjacent to Dundee City Council’s own Marchbanks waste management depot on Harefield Road. There are also large piles of asphalt lying on the derelict ground next to the former nightclub. However, because the Stack Leisure Park is on private land, it is not the council’s responsibility to clear the mess. Lochee councillor Tom Ferguson is calling for the entire area to be cleaned up. It is currently home to a number of stores and there are plans to turn to former nightclub, which has been vacant for more than a decade, into a branch of Sports Direct. But the alley behind the nightclub is now filled with a sea of litter, running down almost the entire length of the buildings. Hundreds of old plastic bottles, crisp packets and other detritus lie in a stinking heap to the rear of the former nightclub. Although landowners TJ Morris have attempted to secure the area by locking a gate on the side of the building, there is a large area of waste on the other side that allows access to the alley at the rear of the building, even though a large gate remains in place. Lochee councillor Tom Ferguson said: “It is not the council’s responsibility but I think the whole area needs cleared up.I will definitely be looking into this.The spotlight is definitely turning on the whole area.” Fellow Lochee Labour councillor Norma McGovern said she believes fly-tipping has become more common in the area since the council closed the Marchbanks recycling point. “I’ve raised  issues about rubbish in different parts of the Stack with the environment department and the owners in the past,” she said. “Without a doubt the closure of Marchbanks is having an impact on fly-tipping. “That was closed to the public and the council has tried to tell us there has been no increase in fly-tipping but it doesn’t look like it.” SNP councillor Alan Ross said he hopes Sports Direct begin work to transform the derelict property as soon as possible. He said: “You only need to go into the Stack  on a Saturday now to see that it is a chock-a-block so obviously it has become a popular place again. “But more could be done to make it more attractive so I’m really hoping Sports Direct get in soon and start changing the building.” John Alexander convener of Dundee City Council’s neighbourhood services committee said: “So-called fly-tipping is completely anti-social and blights the communities and areas where it goes on. “Anyone who does it is also acting illegally and the council has in place robust procedures to deter this type of behaviour. “I would completely condemn this kind of selfish and dishonest practice.” “You can report fly tipping on the Council’s website.” Amateur Dundee film-maker Jag Betty also posted a clip of the rubbish on YouTube. He asks: “Where did the rubbish come from? Has it been dumped over the wall? It looks like somebody has dragged something along and let all the rubbish spill out.” TJ Morris bought The Stack in 2008 after its previous owners went into administration. A spokesman for TJ Morris said: “We’re aware of fly tipping at Stack Leisure Park and are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

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

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.


Teenager charged after incident at Stack Leisure Park

September 28 2012

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with assault and possession of an offensive weapon after an incident at Stack Leisure Park in Dundee. Police were called to the scene outside the former Dundee Megabowl building at around 3.40pm on Wednesday. A 16-year-old male suffered minor injuries. Officers had originally detained three males but later released two of them without charge. A report has been sent to the Scottish children’s reporter.

Children encouraged to swap high-sugar snacks for healthier options

January 17 2018

Sports stars are helping promote a healthy eating drive for school children. Called Eat Better Feel Better, the website relaunched by the Scottish Government provides parents with tips to make healthy choices easier for their children. The website shows how quick and cost-effective it can be to swap snacks that are higher in sugar and salt with more balanced options. Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell was joined by former footballer John Hughes, Scotland Rugby 7s captain Scott Riddell and Ross Gray, founder of Gold and Gray Soccer Academy, at Castleview Primary School in Edinburgh to promote the campaign. Public Health Minister @ClydesdAileen relaunches @scotgov's #EatBetterFeelBetter campaign with the help of Snack Heroes John Hughes, @riddell07 and @GoldandGraySA – and pupils from @Castleview_PS https://t.co/jx3N7TiA3H pic.twitter.com/YkVFS0BSen— Scot Gov Health (@scotgovhealth) January 17, 2018 Ms Campbell said: “Scottish parents can have incredibly busy schedules and that’s why Eat Better Feel Better aims to empower families with straightforward and affordable food and snack choices to help keep children happy and healthy. “It’s great to have these incredible sporting ambassadors come down today to spend time with the children and talk to them about the how our healthy snack heroes – like bananas, rice cakes or apple slices – can help to keep them energised.” John Hughes, a former defender for Falkirk, Celtic, Hibernian and Ayr United, said:  “As an ex-player, I know just how important it is to choose meals and snacks that are packed with goodness to keep you healthy and energised. “The easiest way is to start by opting for simple snacks like the Eat Better Feel Better snack heroes that you can quickly prepare or grab on the go – even the smallest of changes can make a really big difference”. (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 Graeme Murray, Press Association Scotland'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '6903790e-da17-44a4-8bc5-0a6668be4917'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Children encouraged to swap high-sugar snacks for healthier options'});

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