Hello and welcome to the 38th issue of this regular Sunday email.
It’s not often that significant parts of the Sunday email have had to be completely rewritten at the last minute…but all the prepared text about Covid and the Christmas restrictions had to be ditched and new copy prepared this morning. All because the government yesterday changed its stance on allowing people to celebrate Christmas together and has backtracked on what will be allowed in different parts of the country. In some parts the changes are dramatic – there’ll be no household mixing at all, whilst here in North Yorkshire mixing together on one day only – Christmas day – will be allowed. The changes nationally come about because of the ever-increasing number of cases stemming from a new Covid variant which threatens to overwhelm the NHS and see many more infections and deaths. Christmas isn’t exactly cancelled up north, but it will certainly be a much quieter celebration…if everyone obeys the rules to keep us all safe and well.
This week I heard that the Swaleside Holiday Park is changing hands and its managers Amanda Kenney and Andrew Balderson are moving on to pastures new early in the New Year. The ninety-seven-unit park has been sold by York House Leisure to the Maquire family who own caravan parks across North Yorkshire, County Durham and Northumberland. Amanda and Andrew, who have been great friends of Topcliffe and big supporters of Topcliffe and Asenby Village Hall, are staying with York House Leisure and taking on a larger holiday park, Galeforth Park near Selby. They will be greatly missed and I for one wish them every success and happiness in the future.
I hope you find the email contents interesting and informative. As usual, do get in touch with me if you have any news or information that you think Topcliffe and Asenby residents might like to hear about.
A merry Christmas everyone!
The government has scrapped plans to relax Covid rules at Christmas and here in Topcliffe and Asenby Christmas bubbles will only be allowed on one day – Christmas Day, rather than the five days we had previously been told. That’s bad enough but things are worse for London and much of south-east England, where new tier four restrictions are in force and Christmas relaxations have been scrapped altogether. In these places, residents will only be allowed to celebrate Christmas with members of their own household and support bubbles. They will not be allowed to travel to other tiers to see family and friends.
Forming a Christmas bubble
There’s a lot of confusion about bubbles and what they can and cannot do. So here is a simple guide. Christmas day bubble, support bubbles and childcare bubbles are all different things and have their own specific rules. The rules on bubbles are enforceable in law.
Here in North Yorkshire, which is in tier two, you are permitted to form a Christmas day bubble but:
- keep your Christmas day bubble as small as possible. Two other households is a maximum, not a target.
- do not join a Christmas day bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area.
- if you have formed a support bubble with another household, that counts as one household when forming a Christmas day bubble.
- stop all unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your Christmas day bubble.
- only meet your Christmas day bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces. You cannot go to the pub with members of your Christmas day bubble.
- only see your bubble on Christmas Day. Do not stay overnight and keep your visits as short as possible.
- stay local where possible. Avoid travelling from a high prevalence to a low prevalence area.
- when seeing your Christmas day bubble, you should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes meeting outdoors where possible, ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible, making space between members of different households wherever you can, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, and following rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.
- people who are self-isolating should not join a Christmas day bubble.
- If someone tests positive, or develops coronavirus symptoms up to 48 hours after the 25th December, everyone has to self-isolate. And you must not visit another household if you, or anyone in your household, is feeling unwell or self-isolating.
The new virus variant
Scientists have warned that a new variant of the coronavirus is more infectious and spreading more rapidly leading the government to change its method of defence. Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, said they alerted the government on Friday that the new variant – first identified in the middle of October – was spreading faster than other viruses circulating and that there was also evidence that people with the new strain had "higher viral loads" – which meant they were more infectious.
Vaccinations begin to roll out
Last week saw the first roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in four locations across North Yorkshire. The over 80s, those in care homes and care home staff were at the head of the queue. By the middle of next week there’ll be eight vaccination sites operating in the county. As expected, getting these sites up and running smoothly has been a logistically complex operation but a great start has been made. People need two doses of this particular vaccine, so all those being vaccinated at the moment will be called back again in three weeks’ time for their second dose. A big development will come when the Oxford vaccine, which is simpler to use, is made available in the near future. It can be taken to more places and administered at greater speed and at that point the whole vaccination programme will really accelerate. Until then the authorities are asking that we do everything we can to keep Covid infection rates down as another surge will only serve to hamper the vital vaccination programme.
Good response to appeal for volunteers
Last week an appeal was made for volunteers to come forward for marshalling duties at the latest permanent vaccination centre opened at The Forum in Northallerton. Dr Rachel Doswell from Topcliffe Surgery says the appeal was a great success and that plenty of volunteers put their names forward. Proves the village ‘tom tom’ works!
Book a Coronavirus test locally
Testing sites in North Yorkshire are operated and managed by the Department of Health and Social Care and private contractors employed by them. The Department is asking the public only to get a test if they are directed to do so by NHS Test and Trace or other NHS services – OR – if they have symptoms. This is important to ensure that those people who need tests the most can be prioritised.
This list only shows the testing sites closest to where we live. These are government operated sites and they are open between 11am and 3pm, except the ‘every day’ sites which are open 8am to 8pm. The full list of North Yorkshire sites can be viewed on the county council’s website at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/book-coronavirus-covid-19-test
• Every day – Harrogate – Dragon Road Car Park, Dragon Road, Harrogate, HG1 5DB
• Every day – Northallerton – The Forum, Bullamore Road, Northallerton, DL6 1LP
Other sites are listed on North Yorkshire County Council’s website at – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/book-coronavirus-covid-19-test
Before you attend you must book a test. Tests can be booked from 8pm the night before. If test sites are fully booked they will not appear on the government’s website. To book a test visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ In certain cases, home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house. There’s a link on the North Yorkshire County Council website to request a home test – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/home-testing
Furlough Scheme extended by a further month
The furlough scheme has been extended for an extra month until the end of April, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced. Under the furlough scheme the government pays 80% of the salary of employees for hours not worked. Employers only have to cover National Insurance and pension contributions.
Santa’s Christmas Eve Jingle
Fancy letting the bells ring out for Christmas? If so, join the Christmas Eve bell ringing event on your own doorstep at 6pm.
Community Works looking for volunteers
Do you have some spare time to help do shopping, collect prescriptions or deliver Meals on Wheels for those who are stuck at home during Covid? Community Works is looking for volunteers and would be delighted to hear from anyone who can help. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the office 01845 524494
Christmas Reading Challenge
Children aged up to 11 years of age are invited to take part in Thirsk Community Library’s free Christmas Reading Challenge. All they have to do is borrow four books and they’ll receive a free Christmas craft pack. Parents wishing to sign up their children can email the library at email@example.com or phone 01609 534589 or sign up via Facebook.
From January 2021 you will be able to borrow jigsaws as well as books from Thirsk Community Library. The library is looking for donations of spare jigsaws. Anyone with any jigsaws at home that they are finished with are asked to donate them to the library at Meadowfields, Chapel Street, Thirsk.
Free parking in Thirsk
Just a reminder that Hambleton District Council car parks in Thirsk are free of charge until 1 January 2021. Parking in the Market Place remains restricted to two hours, whilst Marage, Millgate and Nursery car parks are free all day. The free parking also applies in Northallerton and other towns in Hambleton District. However, please remember that parking organised by North Yorkshire County Council is not free. This includes, for example, the on-street parking in Kirkgate, where you still need a disc.
Asenby Angel Trail
Asenby – you were brilliant with the rainbows and the teddies, you were exceptional with the pumpkins, now it’s time to make your angels shine! Make, draw, paint, be inspired… and put an angel in your window this Christmas. Get out there and see how many angels you (and their mums and dads) can spot in the last few days before Christmas.
Christmas post deadlines
Chances are that anything posted 2nd class from now on may fail to arrive in time for Christmas. Monday (21 December) is the final date for 1st Class postings.
Hambleton Community Action’s virtual sing-along takes place tomorrow at 2.30pm. Get your mince pie and glass of wine at the ready and be part of the festive celebration. There’s no obligation to join in the singing but the words will be shown on screen to help if you want to join in. Everyone is welcome on Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89670638715
Avian Influenza Prevention Zone
Following outbreaks of Avian Influenza over the last few weeks in various areas of the country an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared across the whole of England effective from 5pm on 11 November 2020, and additional bird housing measures came in to force from 14 December 2020. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in England, whether they have pet birds, including chickens, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock, are required by law to keep their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances. Failure to comply with the AIPZ Declaration may be an offence under section 73 of the Animal Health Act 1981 and subject to an unlimited fine on summary conviction and up to 3 months’ imprisonment per offence. Avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect people. For further details and biosecurity advice go to the APHA website and look for Avian influenza (bird flu).
Be vigilant when online shopping
As more of us are shopping online this Christmas, North Yorkshire Police are warning residents to be vigilant against criminals looking to defraud them by posing as parcel delivery companies. It’s understood criminals are sending out phishing emails, purportedly from well-known delivery companies, which claim that they have been unable to deliver parcels, packages or large letters. Other approaches include phone calls and texts impersonating delivery companies, as well as fake delivery notices posted through letterboxes. These scams ask for a fee, advance payment or for customers to provide information that is later used to defraud them. Customers are typically tricked into clicking on links to seemingly genuine websites requesting personal and financial information such as their address, date of birth, mobile number or bank details, which are then used to commit fraud. In some cases, victims later receive a call from the criminal pretending to be from their bank’s fraud team, trying to persuade them to move their money to a safe account or reveal their pass codes. Customers are advised to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign:
• Remember that criminals will send out phishing emails with links leading to fake websites used to steal personal and financial information. These emails may appear to be from trusted organisations and may use official branding to convince you they’re genuine. Always access websites by typing them into the web browser and avoid clicking on links in emails.
• Remain vigilant and check delivery notifications very carefully to ensure they are genuine. Emails, texts or cards through your letterbox may look very similar to those that are genuine but may use generic greetings, such as Dear Sir/Madam, or include spelling errors.
• Always question claims that you are due goods or services that you haven’t ordered or are unaware of, especially if you have to pay any fees upfront. Consider whether you’re expecting a delivery from the company named on the card.
• If you receive a delivery card through your letterbox which you do not believe is genuine and which asks you to dial a premium rate number, contact the company direct, using a number you know to be genuine.
• Customers can report suspected scam texts to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726, and forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) suspicious email reporting service.
Christmas at The Elm Gallery
The gallery is opening 10am – 5.30pm almost every day up to and including Christmas Eve. Liz and Dave are happy to open by prior arrangement on an evening. Call 01845 577316 / 07709 223920 or email: email@example.com Check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheElmGallery/ and website www.the-elm-gallery.co.uk for details about the wide range of lovely hand-made items and Christmas gift ideas. Liz and Dave hope that in this very strange year, everyone is able to enjoy Christmas and spend time with at least some of their family and friends. They hope readers will have a healthier and happier 2021.
The Milk Churn Farm Shop
• The shop is unable to take any more orders for Christmas vegetable and meat boxes. Similarly, no further orders can be accepted for Christmas hampers.
• The last day for bread orders is 12 noon on 22 December.
• The last date for collection for turkeys and any vegetables, fruit and/or meat boxes is 23 December. The shop will be open 7am-7pm. It has not been possible to organise a collection rota so come at
any time but please be patient as only two people can be allowed in the shop at any one time. The staff will be serving mulled wine to those queueing, which hopefully won’t be for too long! On
arrival please can you give your name to the assistant at the counter, as a few minutes are needed to get orders from the refrigerated storage.
• The shop will be closed 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 December. It will be open on 29 and 30 December but only 9am to 1pm. We will be closed from 31 December through to 7 January.
• Call on 01845 400446 or check out the website at www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk
These are trying times and the rules and restrictions are testing everyone’s patience. However, it is vital that shops follow the government guidelines aimed at keeping customers and staff safe. Please wear a mask and maintain social distancing whilst in the shop. We apologise for the inconvenience of only being allowed to admit two people at once…but it’s for your own and our safety. If people are unsure how many are in, then just pop your head through the door to check. It is regrettable that on rare occasions we have experienced rude and abusive behaviour. This will not be tolerated and customers unable to be civil will be politely asked to shop elsewhere.
Debs, Hannah and Kerry would like to thank all customers for their tremendous support, especially through these difficult Covid times. Happy Christmas and all the best for a much-improved New Year.
Last minute gift idea
If anyone is stuck for last minute Christmas gifts Fotia Candles might be able to help you out. The Topcliffe business still has some gorgeous burner and melts sets and candles that will keep your home smelling festive. And they are offering a special 10% discount for readers of this email until midnight on Tuesday 22 December. Free collection or local delivery is available in Topcliffe, Asenby and surrounding area. Check out their website www.fotiacandles.co.uk or just get in touch with Samantha or Nikki Key via Facebook or call 07879 624705.
St. Columba’s Church – Christmas Services
Tonight at 6.30pm – This Carol Service will be a shortened service based on the traditional Carol Service. The organist will be Matthew Atherton and he’ll be giving a musical treat before and after the service. Sadly, there’ll be no congregational singing, but the choir will offer a selection of your favourite carols. The number of people that can be admitted to the service will be restricted. There are just a six or seven spaces still available, more if people come as bubbles. If you want to attend and book your place in advance, especially if you come as a bubble, please telephone or email John Phillips – 577034, johnphillips05. If you cannot let him know in advance, please do nevertheless turn up and he and his colleagues will do their best to organise seating, but there are no guarantees.
24 December Christmas Eve 11.30pm Midnight Mass and Holy Communion: This will be the only Christmas Eve/Christmas Day service this year. Covid rules and encouraged booking arrangements as described above will apply.
Sunday 27 December: No services this Sunday
Sunday 3 January 2021: Looking forward to 2021, the year is started with Choral Evensong at 6.30pm
Covid-19 precautions and guidance for all services:
• Please use the hand sanitiser on entry on leaving and when going up for communion.
• Masks must be worn except for cases of medical exemption.
• Social distancing must be maintained at all times.
• There can be no socialising before or after the meeting.
• Please try to stagger arrival times and void close queueing on entry or exit.
The substantial menu is available in the bar area for those who wish to come for a drink. There is a special holiday offer on the Scotch Egg at £1.25, instead of £1.50 (sorry no sharing).
It is highly recommended to book a table in the restaurant when wanting to order from the main menu.
Here are our opening hours over the festive period:
- Christmas Eve: Food 12 noon – 2.30pm and 5 – 9pm, bar 12 noon – 10pm
- Christmas Day: Restaurant reservation only, bar 12 noon – 5pm
- Boxing Day: Food 12 noon – 5pm, bar 12 noon – 7pm
- Sunday 27: Food 12 noon – 8pm, bar 12 noon – 9.30pm
- Monday 28: Food 12 noon – 6pm, bar 12 noon – 9pm
- New Year’s Eve: Food 12 noon – 2.30pm and 5 – 9pm (bookings only), bar 12 noon – 10pm
- New Year’s Day: Food 11am – 5pm (Brunch menu), bar 11am – 7pm
The Angel is pleased to be able to welcome you and your household for drinks on Christmas Day in the bar and bar lounge (refurbished pool room). The substantial menu available to have alongside your drinks will consist of: Nachos £4.50; Scotch egg, rocket and crisps £1.25; Christmas day special: Pigs in blankets, roast potatoes and gravy at £2pp.
Please ring the team now to book your table (one hour slot from 12.30pm). Takeaway will be available Wednesday – Sunday following the restaurant food serving times (however not available on 25th). If you are thinking of staying home this New Year’s Eve, why not pre-order from the special New Year’s Eve takeaway menu to be collected ready to eat or to warm up at home.
Greg and the team wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for your continued support.
The Swan is serving drinks when a ‘substantial’ meal is ordered from the extensive and specially prepared menu. Take-away food is available from 5 to 9pm and 12 noon to 4pm Sundays.
Warm & Well in North Yorkshire
All kinds of people from all walks of life are living in a home they won’t be able to afford to heat adequately over the winter period. It’s estimated that over 24,000 households in North Yorkshire are living in fuel poverty. Switching to a new energy supplier is one of many ways they can turn this situation around. And in doing so, households can save an average of £200 a year. But many people find this process daunting; they don’t know how to do it or where to start. That’s one of the reasons the Warm & Well in North Yorkshire service exists. It’s a helpline anyone in the region can call to make steps to reduce their energy bills to ensure their home is warm and cosy over the cold winter period. Energy saving advice and practical tips are given over the phone, but Warm & Well also have a team of energy saving experts who can visit people in their own home and go through all the steps they need to switch suppliers and start saving money. The service is totally free, and very friendly. If you are struggling with keeping your home warm this winter due to money worries, call 01609 767555.
Brexit impact on travel plans
The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end in twelve days’ time. There are things to do with travel in 2021 that may need your attention.
- Now is the time to check that your passport hasn’t run out or is about to expire. If you have plans (or dreams) of travelling to the European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland from 1 January 2021, on the day of travel, your passport must be less than ten years old and have at least six months left on it.
- These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.
- If your passport is burgundy or has ‘European Union’ on the cover, you can still use it after 1 January 2021 as long as it has enough time left on it.
- It takes up to three weeks to get a passport if you apply online. It takes longer if you apply by post. It costs £75.50.
- As a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.
- Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.
- You will not be able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries from 1 January 2021.
- You’ll need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries from 1 January 2021.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- The EHIC is no longer valid after 31 December 2020 so it is important that travel insurance with healthcare cover is taken out before travelling.
- It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
- You may need extra documents from 1 January 2021.
- You might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. If driving your own vehicle, you’ll also need a ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.
Mobile Roaming Charges
- The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end on 31 December 2020. Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.
- A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without your knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.
• Recycling – Thursdays, 31 December and Thursday 14 and 28 January2021
• Refuse – Mondays 4 January and 18 January 2021
• Green Waste – 14 January (this special collection is primarily for Christmas trees, which must be cut up and completely inside the bin. Other green waste can also be included.
Current 2020/21 licences expire 26 March 2021. Subscriptions for the Hambleton 2021-22 garden waste service can now be purchased. Subscriptions cost £40 per licence per bin. The 2021-22 service runs 29 March 2021 to 25 March 2022. To subscribe or for further information please visit www.hambleton.gov.uk/newbins
• Refuse – Tuesday, 29 December (date changed due to Bank Holiday) and Mondays 11 and 25 January
• Recycling – Tuesday 5 January 2021 (date changed due to Bank Holiday) and Mondays 18 January and 1 February
• Green waste – subscriptions open in January 2021.
There’ll be no email next Sunday 27 December. In the meantime keep safe and remain well. And a very happy Christmas to you all.