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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...

Perth & Kinross

Perth man’s binge drinking assault

April 9 2010

Scotland's "binge drinking curse" was brought sharply into focus yesterday when a young Perth man admitted downing more than 80 units of alcohol before launching a booze-fuelled attack. Perth Sheriff Court heard that Dean Calder, of Cumbrae Place, consumed 24 pints of lager and 15 vodkas on November 14 last year after watching his football team play on television. After the massive drinking session, the Perth plumber confronted Adam McDowell outside a chip shop on North Methven Street before repeatedly punching him on the head and knocking him to the ground. Director of Tayside Council for Alcohol, Frankie Claridge, said Calder, and others like him, were "dicing with death." Sentencing the 20-year-old to 180 hours' community service, Sheriff Robert McCreadie said he had never heard of such a "shocking binge" and that the outcome could have been "far worse." Calder's victim had to be rushed to Perth Royal Infirmary shortly after midnight on November 15 and was left with a broken tooth, swollen head, cut nose and lip but has since made a full recovery. However, Sheriff McCreadie said he had seen similar cases in his time at the High Court where the charge had been murder. "After consuming this extraordinary amount of drink, this gentleman was not in control of his actions and that kind of outcome is possible. We have to be aware of that," he said. "Drinking seems to be some kind of virility symbol in Scotland but it in fact shows a lack of control and a lack of self-discipline. "You don't find this kind of drinking in other European countries -- it is Scotland's curse." The sheriff ordered Calder to pay McDowell £750 in compensation and added that if he didn't start to tackle his drinking he could give himself permanent brain damage. Ms Claridge expressed her fears for Calder's future quality of life, saying, "That man is not going to live long. "Consuming that much alcohol is phenomenal and I have certainly never heard of that amount being taken in any one drinking session. "He is certainly not destined to live long if he keeps that up." She agreed with Sheriff Fletcher's worry that he could end up on the wrong side of the law again. "Apart from the health issue, if he continues to drink that level of alcohol it will cause him far more other problems including criminal ones," Ms Claridge said. "He will not be able to think or act properly and that is when he will commit a great number of offences." Defending Calder, Cliff Culley said his client was a "hard-working lad" and did not drink during the week. He had become involved in the fight after seeing Adam McDowell and his girlfriend arguing, the solicitor said. But Ms Claridge urged him to get in touch for help and said, "There is no simple message to this man other than he has to cut his drinking down dramatically and he has to get help to do this. "If he needs medical help to do this then that can be done through the Tayside Alcohol Problem Service. "We can also deal with him on our own if he does not wish to get medical help."


‘Shocking’ number of attacks on Fife and Tayside ambulance crews

June 27 2011

Ambulance crews in Tayside and Fife have been assaulted more than 50 times in the past three years figures described as both "shocking" and "unacceptable". Figures obtained by The Courier under freedom of information legislation show that between 2008 and 2010 ambulance staff in Tayside were subject to 30 incidents, with a further 22 in Fife. More worrying is the steady increase shown in the figures, with the number of reports doubling from seven to 14 in Tayside during this period. While not as severe, figures in Fife also show a continual increase over the three-year sample. A further 18 incidents were reported in the Forth Valley area, which completes the east central division of the Scottish Ambulance Service. Dundee councillor Ken Lynn, a member of Tayside NHS Board, voiced his anger and called for the legal system to severely punish those who attack people conducting lifesaving work. "It's difficult to comprehend the circumstances as to why anybody would want to attack ambulance crew," he said. Mr Lynn dismissed the idea ambulance staff suffer from a lack of respect from members of the public, and believes alcohol will have played a major role in many of the incidents. Fife councillor Andrew Rodger, a long-time health campaigner in the region, also voiced his anger at the statistics and agreed that it is likely alcohol has played a part in the majority of reported incidents. "These are the people who are coming out to help those suffering with health problems. I think it's shocking that they should find themselves put in that position. "People who commit these offences are usually full of remorse after they've sobered up, but that is not good enough for the person who has been assaulted." The Scottish Ambulance Service has reacted strongly to the figures, claiming threats and abuse are a daily occurrence for its staff. Citing alcohol as a crucial factor in most incidents, a spokesman for the service said, "Our crews undertake a difficult and challenging job in what are often extreme situations and deserve respect. "They are subjected to verbal abuse from the public on an almost daily basis and are also on the end of physical assaults that range from pushing and punching to spitting and attack with a variety of weapons. "It is difficult to understand what motivates someone to assault ambulance crews, but alcohol is a key factor in most of these incidents."

Readers' letters

January 14: Simple solution to help alcohol problem

January 16 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, I wholeheartedly agree with the comments made by Dr Peter Rice, chairman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, regarding the banning of alcohol sales in supermarkets. He has voiced a belief I have had for years and can't think why our Government can't see this as a simple solution to the alcohol problem. Alcohol is far too easily available in any supermarket and it is difficult to monitor these sales to underage drinkers. I also have seen liquor stores in both Canada and Australia and think this type of store remarkably sensible to control the amount being sold and, more important, to whom it is being sold. Avril Simpson.Field Studio,Welton Corner,Forfar. Position is legitimate Sir, Since 2007, the Scottish Government's position towards constitutional reform has acknowledged that extending the parliament's powers and responsibilities short of independence is a legitimate position to take and one that commands significant support. It is therefore entirely consistent to take this on board when consulting the people, not least if a proposal is generated by credible parts of civic Scotland as looks likely. This referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and must reflect public opinion. Iain Anderson.41 West End,St Monans. You can't be serious, Alex! Sir, June 24 2014 is the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn. Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games between July 24 and August 3 2014. The Ryder Cup is at Gleneagles in September 2014. The SNP's independence referendum will be held in autumn 2014. Alex Salmond's transparency is so obvious it is laughable. Does he really think we will base our decision on flimsy sentimentality and a fleeting feel-good factor? Stewart Whyte.25 Crombie Acres,Westhill,Aberdeenshire. Keep HGVs off village roads Sir, I refer to the accident on the A977 at Drum and your article on traffic speed on this route. I believe that the so-called traffic calming measures through Drum and Crook of Devon villages have been a failure and a complete waste of money. Most drivers completely ignore the speed limit, and if one adheres to the necessary limit you find you are tailgated and harassed by some ill-tempered drivers. I use the pedestrian crossing in Crook of Devon in the early morning on my way to the village shop and have witnessed numerous vehicles going through red lights due to excessive speed at this crossing. Recently a child was knocked off his bicycle by a motorist, who failed to stop. These heavy goods vehicles should not be travelling through these villages as these roads are not suitable. Ian Robertson.Station Road,Crook of Devon. Royal Mail address problem Sir, Your article 'No faith in Royal Mail' (January 9) prompts me to write about something that has annoyed me for years. In the middle ages Dundee became a Royal Burgh within what was then the county of Forfarshire. In 1947 Forfarshire became Angus, but long before, in the 1890s, Dundee had become first a city and then a county (which is why our Lord Provost is also the Lord Lieutenant). So why does Royal Mail still think that Dundee is in Angus? Chris Davey.Camperdown Street,Broughty Ferry. We can't wait another 10 years Sir, It is with disbelief that I read the letter from Jane Ann Liston, member of the NE Fife Liberal Democratic Party, about the replacement school at Kilrymont. Does she not remember that the Liberal Democrats in North East Fife went into the last council elections promising to back the proposal for a school at the Taybridge head and when they were elected on to Fife Council immediately voted against the proposal? The Liberal democrats in Fife are still all over the place re: the replacement school each wanting different solutions and it is only because of the backing of the SNP councillors in Fife that we are finally going to get a school fit for pupils in the 21st century. We cannot wait another 10 years! Bill Connor.5 Jubilee Buildings,Tayport. 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.


Impact of alcohol on families is too high says NHS Tayside

November 13 2017

Tayside health chiefs are working to make vital changes to the region’s hugely damaging drinking culture. Due to greater availability and the low cost of alcohol, people now consume higher volumes of alcohol in their own homes rather than in pubs, bars and restaurants. The private nature of that drinking serves to mask some of the problems faced by problem drinkers, though the most devastating effects inevitably have to be treated by medics. In parts of Perthshire, social isolation has been linked to alcoholism and significant issues with alcohol-related mental health problems. Those issues are also prevalent in some of the more deprived parts of Tayside, including communities within the city of Perth. NHS Tayside intends to use Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from November 13 to 19, to appeal to problem drinkers, for whom use has become abuse, to take steps to help themselves. The annual campaign is backed by the health board and the Dundee and Perth and Kinross Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADP). It is asking people in Tayside to think about alcohol and the impact it can have on them as individuals, their families and on their communities. Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Emma Fletcher, said: “We want to start a conversation around problematic alcohol use to help break the cycle of silence and stigma that is all too often experienced by families,” Dr Fletcher said. “A lot of people in Tayside are drinking to harmful levels at home in the evening or over dinner and this can cause huge damage to their bodies and long-term health. “People may not always realise how much they are drinking on a weekly basis. They will see real benefits if they reduce their alcohol consumption.” Dr Fletcher said the best advice was to take “small, simple achievable steps to cut down”, such as having at least two alcohol-free days every week and alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water on a night out. She added: “We advise people not to exceed recommended government guidelines. The maximum weekly intake of alcohol is 14 units for both men and women.” To mark Alcohol Awareness Week, Tayside Council on Alcohol will be hosting an information tent outside its Dundee premises in the Wishart Centre on Constable Road on Thursday November 16 from 10am to 4pm. Staff will be providing information and advice, as well as alcohol assessment if required.


Under-age drinking ‘cannot be stopped’

January 14 2011

Anti-alcohol campaigners have warned that stringent police crackdowns and the many diversionary activities laid on to steer youngsters away from alcohol would never stop children "taking risks." They were commenting on the disclosure that the number of children being admitted to casualty in Dundee for drink-related problems has almost doubled in a year. Just over 200 intoxicated teenagers were taken to Ninewells A&E in 2008/9, a figure that rose to 388 during the following 12 months. Director of Tayside Council on Alcohol Frankie Claridge said, "My view is you will never stop under-age drinking. "Young people's lives are all about risk-taking. It's on the job description of being young." The admission-a-day situation in Dundee is even more worrying when compared against the main hospitals in Grampian and the Highlands, both of which recorded declines in teen alcohol cases. Dr Bill Morrison, of Ninewells A&E, said, "Dundee has a disturbing problem with alcohol with 80% of admissions on Friday and Saturday nights being alcohol-related. "On occasion children as young as 10 have been hospitalised for boozing, and drunken 15 and 16-year-olds were a common sight. "People seem to start drinking at an earlier age and that seems to be a big concern for the future. "Consumption of alcohol is going up and the associated health problems are going up. "Sometimes these young people will have fallen over and hurt themselves because of excess alcohol, or else they just need treatment because of the alcohol itself." The increase in Dundee comes despite initiatives undertaken by Tayside Police, its partner agencies and youth groups. In a new attempt to combat the supply of drink to teenage tipplers, police have supplied off-licences in problem areas of Dundee with codes to "tag" bottles of wine, beer, cider and spirits, so if children are caught with them they can be traced to a specific store.

Angus & The Mearns

Prescription drugs putting increasing burden on Tayside Substance Misuse Service

February 19 2015

Complex problems are placing a specialist service for Tayside drug users under greater pressure than ever before. Over the past decade the Tayside Substance Misuse Service has seen a massive increase in the number of drug users requiring its aid. In 2005 it had nearly 800 clients from across the region who were seeking methadone treatment or detox, but by the end of 2014 that number had rocketed to around 2,400. Dr Brian Kidd is NHS Tayside’s lead clinician for substance misuses and heads the service, which helps people across Tayside who require treatment for significant addictions. “Drug use is an increasingly complex issue as there are now very few people with ‘simple’ drug problems such as the injecting of heroin alone,” he said. “The people who are turning to specialist treatment services such as NHS Tayside’s are far more likely to be abusing a combination of drugs. “They are taking a cocktail of substances, often including heroin and other opiates, mixed with prescription drugs diverted into illicit use and often legal highs and alcohol too.” Dr Kidd added: “Drug use is a far more complex than many people realise, with prescription drugs an increasingly great problem across the country. “In the USA, researchers have long claimed that abuse of prescribed painkillers is a more severe problem than illicit heroin use. “In recent years there has, however, been a massive increase across Scotland in the prescribing of opiates and other drugs that carry with them the potential for abuse. “You can be prescribed the medication for a few days in the wake of a serious operation and be discharged, only to find that the pain is worse than anticipated. “A visit to a GP can see a second prescription made and then it becomes a repeat prescription and by this stage a drug that was to be taken for a few days has been used for three weeks. “That can be the beginning of a serious problem.”


‘Worst of both worlds’: Scots add Mediterranean boozing to binge drinking

October 7 2017

The head of Tayside Council on Alcohol said Scotland suffers the "worst of both worlds" when it comes to its relationship with drink. Karthryn Baker said traditionally, Scots drank excessively at weekends while their southern European counterparts drank less, but more often. She said Scots have become accustomed to drinking through the week and then binge drinking on weekends. Ms Baker was speaking after figures released by NHS Tayside revealed the huge toll alcohol abuse it taking on people's health. Between 2012/13 and 2016/17 236 people died of the disease, an average of almost one death per week. Additionally, there were 1,748 discharged with a diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease during that period. Tayside has one of the highest rates of alcoholic liver disease in Scotland. In 2015 there were 14 deaths per 100,000 people. Greater Glasgow had the highest rate with 19.1 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest rate was in the Borders with just 7.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Ms Baker said: "I don't think the figures are a shock, they reflect a trend we've seen over the past few years where alcoholic liver disease is being presented in younger and younger individuals. "If you look back 20 or 30 years ago, it was not something you would see in people in their 30s, 40s or 50s, it tended to be older adults." Ms Baker said alcohol has become more affordable and drinking habits have changed. "If you rewind 50 years drinking was something that was done at weekends whereas some of our neighbours in southern Europe would drink on a more regular basis but not to the level of intoxication. "Now we've got the worst of both worlds where we have adopted having a glass of wine before a meal and a bottle of wine with dinner, then binge drinking at the weekend." Ms Baker said tackling Scotland's relationship with alcohol will require a cultural shift but that, as demonstrated with smoking, such a fundamental change in attitudes is possible and that the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol may be key to achieving this. "We have seen a massive culture shift with smoking," she said. "It will have to be partly driven by legislation and we do need investment to help change people's mindset and their attitudes to alcohol . "A lot of preventative work is with children and young people but they often get their messages on alcohol from their families." A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “Individuals who drink too much risk short-term harm such as alcohol poisoning and becoming a victim of an accident, violence or crime. “In the longer term, the risks of continuing to drink too much include dependence, mental health problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and various cancers. “The three Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) across Tayside commission a range of specialist services for those experiencing and seeking help for alcohol problems, including counselling, alcohol detoxification in the community or as an inpatient, to manage alcohol dependence and prevent further harm "Furthermore, ADPs work to educate and raise awareness of the risks of alcohol more widely and encourage people in Tayside to develop a positive and healthy approach to drinking. “Drinkers should try not to exceed the recommended guidelines of 14 units a week for women and men, spread throughout the week. “If you are concerned about your drinking, try to get help. Talk to a friend, or your GP. For free, confidential advice on alcohol and how you can reduce your intake, call Drinkline on 0800 7314 314 or www.drinkaware.co.uk.”  

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


Charities demand answers after Police Scotland claims it’s ‘too costly’ to track youth alcohol problem

March 13 2018

Leading charities have demanded answers after Police Scotland claimed it is "too costly" to track Tayside's youth drinking problem. The force refused to say how many youngsters had been stopped with alcohol or caught consuming it underage, claiming the information would be too expensive to produce. Campaigners said the decision makes it more difficult for them to establish the full scale of problem drinking among the region's under-18s, while official figures from NHS Tayside point to the issue getting worse. Kathryn Baker, service manager at the Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA), said the information would be "very useful" in tackling problem youth drinking. "The data we have at the moment involves going into schools and surveying children who are present on that day," she said. "What it doesn't include is pupils who are regularly excluded or are not in mainstream school - those children can definitely be among the ones most at risk. "There are real issues with how families are dealing with the poverty we have in Dundee and I know both the police and the NHS deal with some of the same faces again and again, and we need to know more about that group." Figures obtained by The Courier show the number of children presenting to A&E in Tayside, where alcohol is identified as a factor, may have increased by as much as 17%. Because of the risk of identification of individuals, NHS Tayside was unable to specify the exact number of youngsters seen by hospitals on months where fewer than five were admitted but figures increased from a maximum yield of 202 in 2016 to 237 last year. In June alone, five children under the age of 13 presented to Ninewells Hospital's A&E department for issues relating to alcohol consumtion, while the following month 19 individuals aged 14-17 turned up at the service for similar reasons. Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said such information is not routinely made available to charities working to tackle the issue. "Every instance of a child being admitted due to alcohol should be of concern given the potential for serious physical and mental health consequences," she said. A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said the health board "works closely with its partners, including three regional Alcohol & Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and local authority, voluntary sector, Police Scotland and community colleagues to develop responses to alcohol related harm affecting young people." She added that a "substance misuse profile" for each area in Tayside is produced on an annual basis and shared with ADP colleagues. Detective Inspector Allan Elderbrant, of Safer Communities, insisted Police Scotland remains committed to “reducing the harms associated with substance use on individuals, families and communities in Scotland”. He added: “Through partnership working, and with the support of local communities, we aim to make Scotland a safer place.”