Hello and welcome to the 41st issue of this regular Sunday email. I hope you find its 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.
The week’s Covid statistics (Saturday 16 January)
- 41,346 people in the UK tested positive for Coronavirus. Almost 340,000 people tested positive over a seven-day period. Both figures are significantly lower than the previous week.
- Last week 4,532 people a day were admitted to hospital (29,412 in the week). There’s a record 37,500 Coronavirus patients in hospital. These figures show an increase on the previous week. The peak in admissions is expected in a seven to ten days’ time.
- The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.3, compared with 1 and 1.4 last week.
- Coronavirus patients are now regularly being moved from areas where there is a strain on hospitals to hospitals in other parts of the country, including the north east and Yorkshire.
- 695,000 Coronavirus tests were undertaken on 15 January and 4,178,802 during a seven-day period to 15 January.
- On Saturday 1,295 UK deaths were announced. There were 7,722 in the seven-day period to Saturday. Both these figures are increases on the previous week. So far during the pandemic, close to 88,600 deaths have been recorded.
- Worldwide, the number of deaths passed the two million mark – 2,000,905.
- From tomorrow, special air travel corridors will close and everyone arriving in the UK will have to present a negative Covid-19 test before they board a plane, train or boat bound for the UK. The test will need to have been taken within 72 hours of the start of the journey. All travellers will have to quarantine for 10 days, unless they test negative after 5 days.
- Also, from Monday, all flights from South America and Portugal to the UK have been halted in an attempt to stop a particularly virulent strain of the Brazilian Covid from arriving here.
Vaccinations proceed at a pace
Over 3.5 million people have had the first dose vaccination. Locally, Topcliffe Surgery is working with seven other surgeries in the Hambleton to run the centre at The Forum in Northallerton. The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS or Topcliffe Surgery for a vaccination before then. Topcliffe patients will either be contacted by letter or telephone call from the surgery.
Experts have warned that some people may still get Covid despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe. It may take a week or two for your body to build up some protection from the first dose of vaccine. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions – practice social distancing, wear a face mask, wash your hands carefully and frequently, as well as follow local restrictions – to avoid infection and protect those around you.
Statement from Richard Flintoff, Chief Executive of North Yorkshire County Council (13 January)
The number of people we have lost In North Yorkshire to Covid-19 since the pandemic began is 841. That’s 841 families who have lost a person they loved – a mum or dad, brother or sister, a son or daughter, a grandparent, a best friend. More than 30 people have died here in the last week alone. In a personal and professional capacity, I share the sense of grief and determination to drive this virus out of our county and today I am asking you to show that team spirit and resolve like never before to help that happen. North Yorkshire’s frontline NHS staff are now treating 85 more patients in the hospitals which serve our residents than in the first wave. Thirty more people who need hospital care have been admitted over the last 48 hours alone. Our NHS colleagues are using words we hoped not to hear. They are facing ‘unprecedented demand’: they are in ‘a dangerous place’. The new variant, which we know is much easier to catch than the original strain, is widespread across North Yorkshire and York and doing its best to drive infection still further here. And even though we are seeing the first small reductions in the rates of infections across the county there is a delay of around 10 to 14 days between someone testing positive for Covid and developing the more serious symptoms, which may require hospital treatment. Therefore, a reduction in rates now will not translate into any relief for NHS staff for some time to come. Only by acting collectively and consistently and making the right decision every day can we make the difference that will turn the tide on this and see us edge towards a better place.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who continue to do the right thing and who are staying at home. For the tiny minority who think it’s OK to have a birthday party at home with friends or drive unreasonable distances to take their daily exercise I would warn that they should expect a word from our colleagues at North Yorkshire Police. Because whilst officers have been incredibly patient in explaining the rules to people, they are equally clear that those choosing to flout them deliberately can expect a fine.
Exercising and meeting other people
The argument continues about the clarity or otherwise of government rules relating to leaving our homes for exercise. The media has regularly reported apparent breaches of the regulations and there were accusations that even the Prime Minister travelled too far from home for exercise purposes. Fortunately, the two Derbyshire ladies fined for being out walking at a beauty spot whilst drinking coffees have had their £200 fines cancelled. And in the section above, North Yorkshire County Council’s CEO warns that the county’s police are on the lookout for anyone flouting the rules. So, what are the rules? The government maintains the following guidelines should be sufficient for us all to make sensible decisions.
The main point is that you should minimise time spent outside your home. It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
- by yourself
- with the people you live with
- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
- or, when on your own, with one person from another household.
Public outdoor places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
But be prepared for changes to these rules. At the end of last week the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said the government could not rule out further measures being announced any time soon. It is thought ministers are considering measures like requiring the wearing of masks outside and allowing people to exercise only with people from the same household.
Think carefully when going shopping
There’s been much in the news this last week about peoples’ concerns about going shopping in supermarkets…and the big chains have reacted quickly to reintroduce firmer safety rules governing the wearing of masks, one-way routes and numbers allowed in the shop at any one time. So, what is the best advice for those of us that must continue to do the shopping?
First, we have to remember that Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. These can cause an infection if they are breathed in, or potentially if you touch a surface they have landed on. So, going shopping and mixing with other people does carry a risk. That is why social distancing – keeping at least 2m (about 6ft) from others – is so important. The experts agree that supermarkets can provide an ideal setting for virus transfer. They recognise that many people are touching and replacing items, as well as touching checkout belts, baskets, trolleys, cash cards, car park ticket machine buttons, ATM buttons and paper receipts. Not to mention being in the proximity of lots of other people.
There are ways to offset these risks:
- Shop at quieter times when fewer shoppers are about.
- Make use of any priority shopping arrangements on offer, for example if you qualify to use special slots NHS workers and those for vulnerable people.
- Always wear your mask…and consider wearing gloves.
- Make use of sanitisation materials supplied at entrances.
- Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after shopping.
- Treat surfaces as if they may be contaminated, meaning you avoid touching your face after handling anything mentioned above.
- Use contactless payment methods.
There’s always the option of shopping online with home deliveries. There’s high demand for slots but look around and there’ll be availability at one or other main supermarkets. And don’t forget that the Milk Churm Farm Shop in Topcliffe can provide veg, fruit and fresh meat boxes…and deliver them vulnerable villagers in Topcliffe and Asenby.
Book a coronavirus test locally
These are government operated ‘every day’ sites close to where we live. They operate 8am to 8pm. The full list of other sites operating in North Yorkshire 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
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/ There’s a link on the North Yorkshire County Council website to request a home test – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/home-testing
Asenby Parish Council
Just a reminder that Asenby Parish Council will meet remotely on Wednesday 20 January. The meeting is at 7.30pm. Residents wishing to join this meeting should email the Parish Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org for log in details.
Fish and Chips
The Fish & Chip van will be back in action between 4 and 7pm on Friday 22 January.
Topcliffe Post Office
Here’s a reminder of the current opening hours: weekdays 7.30am – 3:30pm for the shop and 8:30am – 3.30pm for the post office counter. Saturdays – 8.30 – 11.30am. Sunday closed.
Topcliffe resident Samantha Key is taking up philately but she won’t be sticking the stamps she has into an album…instead she is collecting used stamps to support her favourite charity. She is supporting Support Dogs for Autism, for Epilepsy and for Disability, a registered national charity dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for people with various medical conditions. It provides, trains and supports specialist assistance dogs to achieve this. Sam is prepared to act as a ‘stamp collector’ for Topcliffe and Asenby and is hoping villagers will support her by collecting any stamps – UK or international. They just need to be cut out with about a 1cm of envelope left around the edge. Anyone willing to help can collect stamps at home and at convenient times, when passing, drop them through the letterbox at Cliff House, Long Street (next door to The Angel).
Topcliffe Surgery – Round-Up
- Text Messaging – The recently launched text messaging service is proving to be very popular. The service enables surgery staff to provide patients with test results and other important information by text to your mobile. This includes being able to let you know when your medication is ready to collect. For this service to run well, it is important that the surgery has the correct contact details for all patients. If any of your contact details have changed recently please let the surgery know.
- Advice on weight gain and fitness- In January many of us start to think about the changes we’d like to make in the coming months. With almost a year of social distancing and restrictions, some of us have got fitter and lost weight. For others, they’ve lost fitness or gained weight. Lockdown places new limits on what we can do, but if you’d like to do something about it, why not consider the NHS weight loss plan? It’s a free 12-week plan, and with over 7 million downloads, you’ll be in good company. Additionally, surgery staff advise that if you’re trying to lose weight, a low-fat diet could help you. Fat is higher in calories than protein or carbohydrate per gram, so changing what you eat can make a big difference over time. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, losing weight can make a huge difference to your overall health. Restrictions have meant that many of us haven’t exercised how and where we normally would. If you’re missing out on the gym, the NHS has a brilliant suite of fitness videos for you to follow at home. From aerobic to strength training, there’s something for everyone.
- Dry January – If you think you might be drinking a bit more alcohol than you should, you might want to consider some of the tips the NHS has to offer to help you cut down. Alcohol can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. For others, just cutting down won’t be enough. You might have decided to cut alcohol out of your life completely. For some people, it’s not a lifestyle choice: it’s a necessity. ‘Drink Aware’ has advice about removing alcohol from your life safely. This is particularly important if you’re drinking heavily on a regular basis. If you think you might be dependent on alcohol and could use some support, please ask to speak to one of the GPs at the surgery. They’re always there to help support positive changes. If you think a temporary change in alcohol consumption might be just the ticket as a reset after the festive season, take a look at Alcohol Change UK’s ‘Dry January’ website. We might be halfway through the month but it’s never too late to consider a change in drinking habits. Participants report a wide range of benefits such as saving money and improved sleep.
- Brew-up to support The Samaritans – For many of us, 2020 was a long, challenging year! Now in the midst of winter we are experiencing shorter, darker days. These things can have a negative impact on mental health and resilience. Sometimes just hearing a friendly voice is all you need when you’re feeling down. That’s why The Samaritans are asking us to reach out to relatives, friends and neighbours who might be finding things difficult. Even if we can’t meet easily for a cuppa, we can arrange to have a virtual cuppa and put the world to rights together. After all, they do say that a problem shared is a problem halved. The surgery is supporting a brew-up on Monday 20 January and it’s hoped that lots of us will take part and help raise a few pounds for the charity. For more information about how to get involved and contribute go to: https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/brew-monday/
- Flu vaccination for patients aged 50 to 65 years – the surgery still has some flu vaccines available for patients in this age group. It is important that those who are eligible for the jab make an appointment to receive it. If you have not had your flu vaccination yet, please call 01845 577297 to make an appointment.
Yarnbombers in action in Topcliffe
Mystery yarnbombers have been leaving knitted momentos around Topcliffe this past week or so. Lovely little messages attached to knitted flowers, rainbows and owls have mysteriously appeared in all sort of places for anyone to find and take home. Of course, you’re not allowed to know whodunit! That’s secret and the names of yarnbombers are rarely revealed.
Thirsk Community Library
The library has launched a new jigsaw loan scheme. This is operating alongside the popular Library at Home and Click and Collect book, audiobooks, music and DVDs borrowing services. You can choose the type of jigsaw picture and the number of pieces either by telephone 01609 534589 or by email email@example.com . It’s £1 for a four-week loan or 50p for children’s jigsaws.
Thirsk-based charity Community Works is doing the home deliveries of library books as well as shopping and prescription deliveries if anyone is in need of assistance. Queries about any of these services or helping with volunteering to drive people for their vaccinations or doctor’s appointments, can be made to Helen Ashworth on firstname.lastname@example.org
RSPB’s annual birdwatch
If you want to participate in the RSPB’s annual bird watch don’t forget to make a note on your calendar – it will take place between 29 and 31 January. 375,000 people have already signed up to take part. Anyone can join in and all you have to do is pick an hour during which you will monitor and count the birds in your own garden. All you have to do is count the birds that land in your garden…but you should ignore any birds that are still in flight. The results can be submitted online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch from 29 January until 19 February. Every count is important so, even if you don’t see anything you are asked to tell the RSPB. Apparently, finding out which birds don’t visit your area is as important as understanding those which do!
Safer Internet Day – 9 February
To mark Safer Internet Day, North Yorkshire Police will be hosting another of the popular online ’Ask the Experts’ evenings, this time to offer some insight into the tricks scammers use to manipulate their victims. The event will be conducted using Microsoft Teams and those registering to take part will be emailed a link prior to the date. You do not need to have Microsoft Teams installed on your computer to participate, just a good internet link.
To register for the event please click on this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/internet-safety-day-ask-the-experts-north-yorkshire-police-tickets-135979661829
News from The Elm Gallery
The gallery remains closed. Liz and Dave will continue to promote items on the gallery’s Facebook page and website. Collection of purchases at the gallery door can be arranged. More information can be found on their website at www.the-elm-gallery.co.uk and they can be contacted on 01845 577316 or 07709 223920.
The Milk Churn Farm Shop
The farm shop is open but no takeaway drinks are being served during lockdown. Fresh bread arrives daily. Customers can only enter the shop one at a time, they must wear a mask and are asked not to handle products they don’t intend to buy. For their part, the staff will clean the baskets, door handles and other surfaces on a regular basis. Meat, fruit and vegetable baskets can be delivered to any Topcliffe and Asenby residents who are isolating or collected in person by arrangement. Telephone 01845 400446 to order and agree a time. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/
St. Columba’s Church
Following a recent online meeting of Topcliffe St Columba’s PCC it has been agreed that the following services will be held:
- Matins today at 10.30am.
- Evensong at 6.30pm on Sunday, 7 February at St Columba’s Church, Topcliffe.
- No services will be held on Sunday 24 January or Sunday 31 January.
A great deal of work has been done on risk assessments for these services and strict measures will be in place for wearing of face masks, hand sanitisation before and after each service, and social distancing. Please observe spaced time of arrival and departure to avoid mingling. Any changes in the rules or legislation regarding church opening and services will be included in a future email.
Because of the lockdown The Angel has had to close its doors. The Angel at Home takeaway service is operating with a new menu and reduced prices. Take away times are Wednesday to Saturday, 4.30-8pm, with orders taken from 3.30pm and Sundays 12-6pm, with orders taken from 11am. Call 01845 578000 to place an order or book a time slot in advance. Check out the details at www.theangelattopcliffe.co.uk
The Swan is closed until further notice…hopefully, not too long!
• Refuse – Mondays 18 January and 1 February 2021.
• Recycling – Thursday 28 January 2021
• Green waste – collections recommence Thursday 22 February 2021
• Recycling – Mondays 18 January and 1 February (subject to weather conditions)
• Refuse –
• Green waste – suspended until mid-March
Green waste licence renewal
Subscriptions for new licences from both councils for 2021-22 are now being taken
The Hambleton licence expires on 26 March 2021. Subscriptions for a new licence will cost £40 per licence per bin. The 2021-22 service runs from 29 March 2021 to 25 March 2022. To subscribe or for further information please visit www.hambleton.gov.uk/newbins
Subscriptions for a new licence from Harrogate District Council will cost £41 per bin. The 2021-22 service runs from mid-March 2021 to November 2021. This year we have held the price of a garden waste licence at £41. You will receive nineteen fortnightly collections – great value at around £2 per collection. To subscribe or for more information please visit https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/garden-waste-subscription-service
That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.