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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...

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.

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.

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.

Readers' letters

July 1: State pension should rise to 25% of earnings

July 1 2010

The state pension continues to be an issue on the minds of correspondents to The Courier, while VAT, immigration and the need to remember Britain's military veterans are also discussed. State pension should rise to 25% of earnings Sir,-As chairman of Dundee Pensioners' Forum, I wish to disassociate our forum from any of those who are supportive of the budget which can, at best, be described as regressive and hitting vulnerable groups on fixed incomes such as pensioners. The Government have stated that pensions will rise in line with average earnings, a link the Tories broke in the 1980s. When the state pension was introduced in 1909, it was set at five shillings a week, which represented 25% of average earnings, while the present state pension is less than 15% of average earnings. As a pensioners' forum, we demand that the buying power of the UK's state pension should be restored to 25% of the average earnings in 2010, which would raise the state pension for a single person to £173 per week, opposed to the current £97.65. Jim McAulay.Chairman,Dundee Pensioners'Forum,156 Findhorn Street,Dundee. UK's older people betrayed Sir,-Pensioners have waited nearly 30 years for the link between pensions and average earnings to be restored in the United Kingdom. Research has shown that, over these three decades, we have lost out by nearly an extra £60 per week on our pensions. In 1997, when New Labour came to power, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown promised to end pension poverty in their first year. The result was a 75p increase on pensions. This was a disgraceful way to treat people who defended our country in its time of need. We have the lowest pensions in the western world and, as Jim Parker observed (June 28) we can only reverse this position through political intervention. Jack Stewart.National Pensioners' Convention.35 Potterhill Flats,Perth. VAT rise won't hurt Sir,-While 2.5% on VAT is an increase of 14% on the current rate of 17.5%, a lot of nonsense is spouted about it costing every family about £400 per year. An extra £400 would arise only for families spending around £16,000 on items liable for the full VAT rate. As mortgage interest, rent, council tax, insurance, TV licences, books, newspapers, prescriptions, dental fees, domestic travel, most food, utilities and children's clothes are VAT free, or not subject to the full rate, families able to spend £16,000 per year (after income tax & NIC) on everything else cannot be considered as deprived. The extra VAT on a new fridge or washing machine costing £400 would be only £8.51, or on a car costing £10,000 would be £213, hardly deal breakers and, as many are now made abroad, might well be offset by the stronger pound. However, it would be more sensible with a few years' transition, to charge VAT on most of the above exclusions, enabling the rate to fall to 15% and to treat us as adults capable of deciding our own patterns of expenditure. John Birkett.12 Horseleys Park,St Andrews. Cameron right to limit immigration Sir,-This new Government does not hang around and deliberate for 13 years but acts. Firstly, a strict limit on non-EU work permits. Then they drastically reduced housing benefit so that those with large families will no longer live in luxury and have us pay the huge rents but will have to move to more modest accommodation. Now we hear that immigrant workers will be forced to have private health care. This is long overdue and is designed to prevent yet further strain on the health service. A Migrationwatch report showed that in 2007/2008, more than 600,000 migrants registered with a GP. Unsustainable. Next on the hit list? A curb on the pregnant women who fly in to Heathrow and have their babies on the NHS. Then, of course, those with serious illnesses who present themselves at accident and emergency for free treatment. Then the foreigners with illnesses who have relatives here and give that address to receive free treatment. The 270,000 student visas is yet another scam? This Government is quickly acting in the interests of the British people. Clark Cross.138 Springfield Road,Linlithgow. Remember 51st Division Sir,-I was grateful to read your article on St Valery. I have long felt that the bravery shown there deserved more mention in the media. That rearguard action helped to keep the Germans back long enough to clear the beaches at Dunkirk. However, a few were rescued after scaling down the cliffs using their rifle slings to help them. This is where I think the Royal Navy deserves a mention because they sailed in, under the German guns, to pick up survivors. I don't know how many were rescued but my brothers Tam and Ron, Fred Cosans and Tom Henderson, a well-known builder from Arbroath, were eternally grateful the navy was there to help them. With grateful thanks to the 51st Highland Division. William Gibb.Scottish Veterans' Residence,Rosendael,3 Victoria Road,Broughty Ferry.

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


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Business news

The autumn statement and pensions flexibility what did Santa deliver?

January 5 2015

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his autumn statement last month, much of which confirmed what we already knew, and which was covered in our October article. However, there were one or two surprises and so it is perhaps worthwhile both confirming some of the good news, and unwrapping those unexpected financial gifts. Pensions: what’s the good news? April 5 will herald a brave new dawn of pension flexibility. Gone will be the requirement to buy an annuity and, from the age of 55, people will have the ability to access as much of their pension pot as they wish. Of course, caution should be urged in this respect as pension funds should primarily be seen as a source of income in retirement. If money is spent in the short term, individuals may well have insufficient funds to last them in retirement. However, provided care is taken, greater flexibility will be available for those who may previously have been frustrated with the narrower alternative options of either annuity purchase or drawing down income with a limited ceiling. Q What options are there when taking money out? A The ability to draw a flexible and unlimited amount of income, in addition to the 25% tax-free lump sum, will provide much wider scope for general retirement planning. If larger capital sums are required in the short term, perhaps a wedding to pay for or a replacement car, then a larger pension amount could be taken whilst retaining the balance for future years. Provided the pension plan allows, individuals will have the ability to access infrequent and indiscriminate amounts of pension fund as and when they so wish. Q What happens to pension funds on death? A More detail was provided in relation to the position on death before age 75. We already knew that from April this year the proposal was that ‘drawdown’ pots could be passed to beneficiaries with no liability to tax. However, the vast majority of people who have annuities and not drawdown funds were given some very welcome news. Essentially, if an annuity has been bought with a spouse’s entitlement, or an unexpired guaranteed period in the event of death before age 75, then this will also be payable free of income tax. Effectively, this brings the treatment of annuities into line with drawdown rules, a very welcome and fair amendment to the original proposals. On death after the age of 75 any beneficiary will pay income tax on funds they draw. It was confirmed that for 2015/16, this will be at a flat rate of 45%. In subsequent years, however, the beneficiary will pay income tax at their relevant rate on any sums drawn. Importantly, any beneficiary can leave money in the pension plan and draw money from it as and when they choose, leading to opportunities to remain within income tax thresholds. Is there any bad news? On the down side of these changes, if the new flexible use of pensions is triggered, individuals will be restricted to a reduced maximum annual allowance of £10,000 which can be paid into a pension, in addition to which the use of ‘carry forward’ of previous years’ allowances will no longer be available. Q What about ISA ‘inheritability’? A This is where the Chancellor really sprang a surprise. With effect from the date of the autumn statement people will, on death, be able to pass on the full value of their ISA portfolio to spouses and civil partners within the tax-exempt status of the ISA ‘wrapper’. Conceivably, this could lead to substantial funds remaining in tax-exempt funds, which previously have been their deceased partner’s ISA fund, in order to retain the tax advantages of the wrapper. There will be no impact on the spouse’s/civil partner’s own ISA annual allowance. Q Do these changes create planning opportunities? A Very possibly. The traditional objection to pension funding has always been a frustration at the inability to ‘get the money back’ that has been put in. That objection will become obsolete after April 5. Any money paid in will effectively be either: * Fully accessible after age 55. * Paid to beneficiaries tax free on death before age 75. * Payable to beneficiaries at their own rate of income tax on death after age 75. As a result of this new era of pension flexibility, people may be much more inclined to take advantage of the tax relief available on contributions, safe in the knowledge that beyond age 55, the fund will be available in the event that capital is needed due to a sudden change in circumstances. Money previously held in a bank savings account, for example, may possibly be put to better use by redirecting this into pensions in order to obtain tax relief, tax-free growth, and a 25% tax-free lump sum. This may be of benefit for those already using the current flexible pension options. Whilst we would always urge caution in the prudent use of pension fund monies, there is no question that these impending changes will widen the choices available for UK savers. It brings into sharp focus the increased advantages and flexibility now available through pension planning, whilst removing some of the long-standing concerns held by many. In addition, the Government seems to be increasingly keen to incentivise and help those who want to save that alone has to be a good thing! * Any references to tax and legislation is based on our understanding of law and HM Revenue & Customs practice at the date of publication. Tax and legislation are liable to change. Tax relief may be altered, and the value to the investor depends on their financial circumstances. The purpose of this article is to provide technical and generic guidance and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation or advice. Investment entails risk, which means the asset values can increase or decrease and you may not get back what you put in.

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

Some nerve lecturing on value of pensions

February 21 2014

Sir, I was interested to hear Gordon Brown join in the latest of many unionist scare stories. This time it was on pensions with Mr Brown implying that independence will mean Scots pensioners will be worse off. Mr Brown has some nerve lecturing anyone on the value of pensions. His decision in 1997 to impose a stealth tax on private pensions led to them being devalued anywhere between £100 - £150 billion. This tax led to a massive shortfall in many pension schemes and saw most companies close their final salary schemes. In his 1999 budget Mr Brown raised the state pension by a derisory 75p. These two policies forced many pensioners into poverty and robbed them of their savings. It is hard to think of anyone other than, say, Robert Maxwell who is less qualified to speak on pensions than Mr Brown. The fact is the UK Government is increasing the state pension age at a time when Scots’ life expectancy is going backwards in many working class areas. They are doing this because the south of England has seen life expectancy rise. Under independence the state pension would be higher and the retirement age lower. Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee. Views weren’t ‘preposterous’ Sir, Rarely have I heard such arrogant comments as those made by John Swinney at the weekend, when he decided to publicly rubbish the views of the head of the European Commission on the subject of Scotland’s possibilities to join the EU as an independent nation state. According to Mr Swinney, the views of the head of the EC are “preposterous” and irrelevant since he will reach the end of his appointed term prior to the referendum vote. Instead, Mr Swinney focuses on the view of an academic most people have probably never heard of, and who has no influence and no responsibility for any mechanism that could impede or assist Scotland in the event of a “Yes” vote, simply because this person’s view supports the SNP dream. Mr Barroso gave his views from his position as head of the European Commission, not as a private unenfranchised EU citizen. Formerly, he was also Prime Minister of Portugal, a country not dissimilar in size and economic profile to Scotland. The one person coming out of this war of words looking as though he holds “preposterous” views is Mr Swinney himself. Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther. They didn’t disagree Sir Dr Cameron (Letters, February 18) is mistaken in claiming that climate scientist Professor Mat Collins has disagreed with Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo about whether climate change led to recent storms. This claim was made by a tabloid newspaper, and prompted Prof Collins and Dame Julia to issue a joint statement. They are in full agreement: the storms were caused by the shifting jet stream, which cannot be linked to climate change on the basis of current knowledge, but the massive rainfall accompanying the storms is entirely consistent with predictions that climate change will mean storms produce more rain. The newspaper linked separate statements about different phenomena and pretended they contradicted each other. Dr Cameron is also being unfair in saying Dame Julia predicted dryer than usual conditions. The Met Office actually stated a 25% probability of very dry conditions and a 15% probability that it would be very wet. There is a difference between a statement of probability and a forecast that a certain outcome will happen. James Christie. 2 Dryburgh Crescent, Perth. Is it a slightly blurred vision? Sir, We appear to be getting a lot of mixed messages regarding the effectiveness of the new single police force. On the one hand there are articles about the lack of interaction between the new force and elected representatives with a lack of public consultation, yet in today’s (February 17) Courier there is an article regarding the success of Police Scotland and how its formation is allowing officers to target local concerns more effectively. It seems like only yesterday that we were reading how Tayside Police were consulting with the public in the formation of the policing plan to ensure service was tailored to local needs. Then there were all the articles detailing how officers had been very successful in one operation or another as they pursued those matters of public concern. The senior officers quoted in the articles did not appear to harbour any concerns regarding Tayside Police’s ability to react to public concerns and deal with those matters. Was the information we were given regarding the success and effectiveness of Tayside Police over the years somewhat overstated given the improvements Police Scotland has, apparently, been able to make in so short a time? Of course Police Scotland will be a roaring success, its political architects will ensure that it is. Tayside Police used to use the slogan “Tayside Police policing with vision”. Perhaps our vision of Police Scotland is being slightly blurred by the amount of wool being pulled over our eyes? Jim Fraser. Elm Street, Errol.