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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Campaign targets dog mess

September 5 2013

Clackmannanshire Council has launched a campaign to stamp out dog fouling in Tillicoultry. The town has been targeted by the council after a high number of complaints in the Fir Park area. Members of the public are being encouraged to contact the council when they see a dog fouling offence taking place. It is thought that one of the main reasons owners don’t clear up after their dogs is because they think there’s not a council officer watching. Council wardens believe that if the message gets out that the general public can take direct action to report offences, dog owners are more likely to act responsibly. The campaign was launched at Tillicoultry Primary School, which is situated in one of the areas of the town being targeted. Convener of enterprise and environment Donald Balsillie said: “The council receives a lot of complaints about dog fouling and we know that people find it disgusting. “We think our hard-hitting posters and flyer will have an impact, as well as the targeted work of our community wardens team. We are targeting Tillicoultry because of the level of complaints we have received recently. “In order for this campaign to work, we need local people to join us in the fight for cleaner streets local people are our biggest asset in helping us address the issue. “If we have enough evidence, our officers will issue a fixed penalty notice.” Mr Balsillie said that the council provides more than 300 dog fouling bins across the area and gives away around two million free dog bags a year. He added: “You can use any bin to deposit dog fouling bags, including your green bin at home, so there really is no excuse.” An earlier focus on Clackmannan resulted in four fixed penalty notices. To report details of a dog fouling offence, members of the public are asked to call 0500 545 540, email cat@clacks.gov.uk, or use the “report it” function on the Clackmannanshire Council website.

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.


Clackmannanshire Council budget plan hailed

February 20 2014

Members of Clackmannanshire Council will consider detailed budget proposals at a special meeting on Friday. A consultation on potential savings was carried out late last year in a bid to cut spending by £7.5 million, following £14m of budget savings over the past three years. The final details have yet to be unveiled publicly. However, independent councillor Archie Drummond praised the proposals for steering clear of “the more unpalatable options”. He said: “From a personal perspective, I particularly welcome the detailed contributions from the parent councils at Tillicoultry Primary School and Alva Academy; Hillfoots Music for Youth; the feedback from both community councilsin my ward and those individual constituents whose comments show clearly that they thought long and hard about service priorities. “For the county’s early years children, this budget builds on last year’s investment in enhanced nursery provision and additional qualified teachers. “This year, with the support of the Scottish Government, we will see a 33% increase in free nursery time for all three to five-year-olds and even more support to two-year-old, cared-for children.” Mr Drummond described the council’s ongoing commitment to the minimum living wage as “particularly important”. He also welcomed the continued support for Ochil Leisure Enterprise, £300,000 towards Mill Glen in Tillicoultry, increased investment in small town centre initiatives and a new fund for community development grants. He added: “I acknowledge again the willingness of Councillor Gary Womersley’s administration to engage with me. I am content that, while my influence is no more than that, the end product is one that I can support.” The public consultation outlined a number of areas where money could be saved, including cuts to youth services and swimming lessons for primary children, withdrawal of free holiday swimming sessions and removal of learning assistants from primary schools. Targeted increases in council tax and parking charges are also being considered. Within the council itself there are proposals for a reduction in senior posts and voluntary redundancies, together with changes to staff terms and conditions.


Paedophile teacher described as ‘Stirling’s equivalent to Jimmy Savile’ in court

June 29 2013

A primary school teacher from Tillicoutry who was described in court as “Stirling’s equivalent to Jimmy Savile” has been struck off. Caven Muirhead abused two brothers over a seven-year period, after befriending their parents. The 56-year-old was allowed to take them on holidays to caravan parks and on outings to Knockhill racing circuit, an air show at RAF Leuchers and Perth Leisure Pool. After gaining their trust he touched both boys indecently and performed sex acts on the youngsters. Muirhead was found guilty of five charges of lewd and libidinous practices following a jury trial at Stirling Sheriff Court in November last year and was later jailed for 18 months. He was ruled “unfit to teach” by the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS). Muirhead, who was also placed on the sex offenders register following his conviction, did not attend the hearing in Edinburgh. A spokesperson for the GTCS said: “The panel had regard to the presenting officer’s submissions that the nature of the conviction, under solemn criminal procedure, indicated the respondent’s conduct falls significantly short of the standards expected of a registered teacher. “The panel noted that, in his response form, the respondent does not admit either the facts or that his fitness to teach is impaired. The panel observed that he provided no evidence or reasons to support his position. “The panel had in mind the importance of the protection of children, the public interest and the importance of maintaining confidence in the teaching profession. “The panel considered that the nature of the conviction represents conduct which is fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher. “The panel therefore determined that the respondent’s conduct falls significantly short of the standards expected of a registered teacher and that he is therefore unfit to teach.” Muirhead targeted the boys between 1989 and 1996, treating them to trips which were described by Suzanne Hutchison, prosecuting, as being like “every little boy’s dreams”. On the way back from one outing to Leuchars Airshow, the court heard Muirhead stopped in a lay-by, took one of the boys into woods and made him watch while he performed a sex act. Similar incidents happened with both boys on caravan holidays across Scotland, as well as at Muirhead’s home in Clackmannanshire. A jury of eight men and seven women took under three hours to find Muirhead, of Jamieson Gardens, Tillicoultry, guilty of five charges two by majority and the other three unanimously. The older brother, now in his mid-thirties, revealed the abuse to health professionals in 2010, and his younger sibling did likewise soon after. The court heard that Muirhead told the younger victim that “it was as much my fault as his” and warned him that “if it came out I’d get into more trouble”. He said he had not alerted the authorities because “he was a teacher in a position of trust”. “It’s the same as Jimmy Savile, where it didn’t come out because he had a big reputation,” he explained in court. Muirhead’s defence counsel Jamie Gilchrist, QC, asked him: “You are saying he is Stirling’s equivalent to Jimmy Savile. In the Jimmy Savile mode?” The victim replied: “That is what he is.” Following the guilty verdict, Sheriff Gilchirst told Muirhead he had breached the trust placed in him. “You were convicted by a jury of serious offences towards these two boys and this involved a breach of trust placed in you by these boys, and by the wider community as a teacher,” he said. “A custodial sentence is the only disposal possible. I have to take into account the impact this had on the complainers.”

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.


Wind Prospect plans additional turbines at Burnfoot Hill Wind Farm

May 2 2011

Plans to more than double the number of turbines on a wind farm site in the Ochil Hills have been unveiled to local communities. Green developer Wind Prospect is seeking to build up to 22 additional turbines at the Burnfoot Hill Wind Farm, north of Tillicoultry. Planning consent for 13 turbines standing at 102 metres was granted in 2007. They have been in place since August 2010 and exporting electricity since November. However, having seen the success of the scheme, Edinburgh-based Wind Prospect now believes there is scope for a significant expansion of the site. The developer is running two public exhibitions in May to introduce neighbouring communities in Kinross-shire and Clackmannanshire to the potential project and answer any questions they might have. It has also written to community councils, including Fossoway, about the potential extension to Burnfoot which is unlikely to prove popular, given opposition to the wind farm when it was first mooted. Wind Prospect's senior development manager Sarah Dooley said it was considering the various options available to it, in conjunction with both Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross Councils. Ms Dooley revealed that there had been some initial discussions with planning representatives from both local authorities, as well as Scottish Natural Heritage.Scope to expand"Since obtaining planning consent for the 13 102m to tip turbines at Burnfoot Hill back in 2007 it has become apparent that there may be some scope to extend the existing project," she said. "The area that we currently believe has potential scope to accommodate additional turbines is relatively sizable, as shown on the attached plan, and could accommodate as many as 22 additional turbines. "The exact scale of any future proposal is yet to be decided and will be carefully considered following on from a variety of environmental and technical assessments that are currently being carried out. "In addition we are keen to widely consult local groups, organisations and members of the public so that we can ensure the most suitable site design is proposed within any future planning application." Two public exhibitions will be held in the coming weeks at which Wind Prospect staff will be present, along with computer-generated photomontages that will offer an idea of how the potential turbines would look from a variety of locations. They will take place at the Tillicoultry Community Centre on Tuesday, May 17 between 3.30pm and 7.30pm, and at Blackford Village Hall on Thursday May, 19 between 3pm and 7pm.Residents in Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire are invited to attend. A newsletter will also be delivered to over 5500 residential properties within six kilometres of the proposed development.

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

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.