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Sunday Email: Issue 43

Hello and welcome to the 43rd 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.


07785 223707

The week’s Covid statistics

• There have been more than 3.7 million Coronavirus cases so far in the UK.

• 4,190,584 virus tests were conducted last week.

• On Saturday, 23,275 people tested positive for Coronavirus. Almost 178,630 people tested positive over the seven-days. However, new cases of Coronavirus have again fallen in the last week.

• 3,117 people were admitted to hospital on a daily basis (23,212 in the week). Hospital admissions have remained high although appear to have plateaued but it continues to be the case that the

number of patients being discharged is at a much slower rate than the number being admitted.

• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – is estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.1, compared with 1.2 and 1.3 last week. That’s a great improvement.

• Over 8.4 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. So far, 480,400 second doses have been administered.

• Last week the total number of UK deaths surpassed the 100,000 mark. Yesterday 1,200 UK deaths were reported. There were 8,242 in the seven-day period to Saturday.

• Worldwide, the number of deaths is now over 2.1 million.

Richard Flinton, Chief Executive, North Yorkshire County Council on the latest position locally

In North Yorkshire in the last 12 months, 917 people have lost their lives to Covid. We have come on a very long and difficult journey since the first two people in the UK were reported with the virus in York last January. But there is light in the darkness growing ever brighter as the nation pushes ahead with the vaccination programme and lockdown brings the infection rate down. Here in North Yorkshire and York, more than 126,000 of our most vulnerable residents, those aged over 80 and in care homes as well as care home staff, have now been vaccinated – one sixth of the population. Residents and staff in all of the county’s 235 residential care settings, apart from those settings with outbreaks and individuals with Covid or recovering from the virus, have been offered the vaccine. There are new mass vaccination sites coming on stream over the course of the coming week, including one at Ripon racecourse. Despite reports of vaccines being diverted from Yorkshire to other areas in the country and despite concerning reports about a block on vaccine exports from Europe, North Yorkshire’s roll-out programme remains on track. This is a huge achievement and sincere thanks are due to our NHS colleagues, social care teams and all our volunteers across the county who have worked so hard to make this happen and continue to work hard as the vaccination programme progresses.

The North Yorkshire rate for people infected with Covid per 100,000 population is 208 – significantly below the England average of 369. Compared to summer months these rates are still high and this is no time for complacency. The death toll is a grim reminder that we must stick to the rules of staying home, wearing face masks, keeping a social distance and washing hands regularly. The rate for Covid is still comparatively high and it is too soon to say that we have turned a corner. With the highly transmissible variant of the virus now in every part of North Yorkshire, it would not take much for infection rates to shoot back up again. The vast majority of our population is still susceptible to contracting Covid.

We must not forget that while infection rates are falling now, the death rate continues to rise and our hospitals and clinical staff remain under enormous pressure. There are 504 patients with Covid in the four hospitals for York and North Yorkshire, an increase of 33 from last week and the highest we have ever had. As many as 61 are in intensive care. And we still have one or more cases of Covid in 87 of our care settings, not as high as last spring, but 11 up on last week.

I must thank the vast majority of people who have complied with lockdown rules as the infection rate shows signs of falling. There is evidence from North Yorkshire Police that more people are complying, though there are still those who do not think the rules apply to them, like the couple who travelled more than 100 miles for a roast dinner. Last week, the police issued 87 fixed penalty notices, compared to 134 the week before.


Since the vaccines were first rolled out on 8 December, 8.4 million people have received their first injection, according to government figures. That means around 6 million more people need to get the jab in the coming weeks if the government is to meet its mid-February target. And to reach that milestone, the government has reinforced its pledge to vaccine 2 million people per week. It says this will be made possible by "the rapid expansion of the programme" of locations where people can get the jab, including 206 hospital sites, 50 national vaccination centres and around 1,200 local primary care facilities.

The UK has certainly made a good start on its mass vaccination programme. With almost 8 million jabs given, only Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have vaccinated more. But the supply chain remains fragile. Pfizer has announced a slowdown in manufacturing for the next couple of weeks so it can upgrade its facilities and ramp up production in the spring. However, the UK is less reliant on the Pfizer vaccine than other countries, as we manufacture the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine here.

Remember, the NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS or your doctor’s surgery for a vaccination before then. Topcliffe and Asenby patients will either be contacted by letter, text or telephone call from the surgery.

More vaccines on the horizon

  • Novavax, a US company that will produce its vaccine on Teesside, announced their jab was 89% effective overall against all UK variants and 60% against the South Africa strain. The government has said doses won’t be available until the middle of the year.
  • A new single-dose vaccine has shown to be 66% effective against Covid-19 and offers complete protection against hospitalisation and death in trials. However, there are signs the jab, made by Belgian pharmaceutical firm Janssen, is less effective against the new variant spreading in South Africa. The Johnson & Johnson-owned company is looking at whether two doses will give stronger or longer-lasting protection. It aims to make one billion doses this year. The UK has ordered 30 million doses, the US 100 million and Canada 38 million.
  • Both these new vaccines will need to be reviewed by regulators before they can be used.

Covid deaths among those of working age

Last week the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published figure showing the impact of Covid-19 on the working population. They announced that so far 7,961 deaths occurred among those aged 20 to 64 years between 9 March and 28 December 2020. Within that figure, there were 469 deaths from those in the care sector, with three quarters of those being care workers or home carers. The largest number of deaths came from those in elementary jobs, which are generally the lowest paid occupations. Out of the 5,128 male deaths, 699 deaths had elementary jobs. Furthermore, nurses had statistically significantly higher rates of death.

A spokesperson at the ONS said: “This analysis shows that jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19 and those working in close proximity to others continue to have higher death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population. Men continue to have higher rates of death than women, making up nearly two thirds of these deaths. As the pandemic has progressed, we have learnt more about the disease and the communities it impacts most. There is a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death; from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions.”

Latest on schools

The government has said that it hopes that schools will be able to start reopening from 8 March, though it has also suggested that it cannot guarantee any re-openings before Easter! Allowing all pupils back in schools depends on many factors including the rate of vaccination amongst priority groups. Teachers and parents have been promised they will get at least a fortnight’s notice on when schools are required to start lessons again.

Schools across North Yorkshire remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, with attendance overall at 18 per cent of pupils. Quick swab tests are being introduced to schools to allow teaching staff and secondary pupils to receive regular, voluntary tests for coronavirus.

Covid rapid flow tests are being introduced to allow staff teaching in primary and secondary schools, colleges and maintained nurseries to test themselves. Young people in Year 7 and above will also be able to receive the tests before returning to school. Primary schools and maintained nurseries in North Yorkshire have been provided with the rapid flow tests in order to begin their testing regime and allow staff to test themselves at home twice a week, using the kits which provide results within 30 minutes. Secondary schools have begun their testing regimes, providing tests for children of key workers and vulnerable students in school, as well as teachers in school. Rapid testing is designed to limit the spread of the virus by helping identify asymptomatic cases. Almost a third of all cases of coronavirus include people without symptoms. The tests will be in addition to existing safety measures already in place in schools, such as teaching children in bubbles, good ventilation, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Each school has its own detailed risk assessment which is regularly updated and takes into account each school’s unique circumstances such as building layouts and pupil numbers. Tests are voluntary for adults and young people and no child or young person will be tested without informed consent from the appropriate adult or carer. Pupils will not be prevented from receiving face-to-face education if they are not tested.

Study finds that Covid-19 can lead to mental illness

According to research undertaken by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, one in eight people who get coronavirus also have a psychiatric or neurological illness within six months of testing positive for the virus. This adds weight to an emerging body of evidence that stresses the toll of the virus on mental health and brain disorders cannot be ignored. The analysis – which is still to be peer-reviewed – also found that those figures rose to one in three when patients with a previous history of psychiatric or neurological illnesses were included. The whole article from The Guardian newspaper can be read here:

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

• 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: There’s a link on the North Yorkshire County Council website to request a home test –

Be aware! There’s another Covid vaccination phishing email flying about

Scammers are relentless in their quest to try and trick people out of their money. A few weeks ago the Sunday Email contained a warning about a scam that was doing the rounds as the vaccine programme got underway. Now there’s a new phishing email scam which has landed in many people’s inboxes this past week It’s much more sophisticated than many, though there are elements of it that should be an immediate warning that it is fake! The scam email is designed to appear as if it is from the NHS and asks the recipient to follow a link to book their vaccination which involves filling out extensive personal details. if you receive an email like this – see attached – do not click on any links. Best thing is to delete it straightaway. Remember Covid vaccinations are free of charge. You don‘t need to apply for one and you certainly don’t need to share bank details to confirm your identity.

New service station on Thirsk outskirts

Regular readers of the Sunday Email will recall that last year a planning application to construct a new service centre at the A168/A19 roundabout in Thirsk was presented to Hambleton District Council. Well, that application has now been approved, though some conditions were applied. The construction will be on land currently used for grazing and arable farming. Thirsk and Sowerby parish councils supported the development, while Bagby and Balk Parish Council objected. There were 65 objections from the public, including from the Campaign to Protect Rural England and only one letter of support. The service centre will have a BP petrol filling station with associated Marks & Spencer retail kiosk, a drive-through McDonalds restaurant, a drive-through coffee shop and HGV parking.

Topcliffe Parish Council

The Parish Council will be meeting remotely on Thursday 4 February at 7pm. Any members of the public wishing to join this online meeting should contact the clerk for log in details – There is a period of 10 minutes at the beginning of each meeting set aside to receive questions and comments from members of the public.

Staying safe online

Don’t forget the ‘Ask the Experts’ online about scammers and the problems they cause us all. It’s happening as part of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 9 February between 7 and 9pm. It’s been organised by North Yorkshire Police who aim to offer some insight into the tricks scammers use to manipulate their victims. With more people working from home and children now having their school lessons online, the need to use the internet more safely and securely has never been greater. 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

Lambert to take on a new role

The former Lambert Hospital in Thirsk will soon become a new home for the charity Herriot Hospice Homecare. Hambleton District Council purchased the old NHS building and handed it over to the charity to create a community hub for people living with terminal illness and bereavement in Hambleton and Richmondshire. There will be a new four-bed inpatient unit, bereavement counselling rooms, an education centre, café and community hub facility with meeting space and IT facilities. The building will also become the home for a range of other activities provided by Herriot Hospice Homecare, including the

end-of-life care home service and sitting, befriending and driving services.

Local traders

  • Tea Time Yorkshire – Rosa Fothergill, who runs Tea Time Yorkshire café in Thirsk, is offering Valentine’s Afternoon Teas and Treat boxes for delivery on the weekend of 13 and 14 February. Full Afternoon Tea for two £36 and Valentine’s Treat Box for two £24, including delivery. Please order online by Sunday 7 February.
  • Fish and Chips – The Fish & Chip van is back in action Fridays between 4 and 7pm.
  • Topcliffe Post Office – The opening hours are: 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.
  • News from The Elm GalleryThe 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 and they can be contacted on 01845 577316 or 07709 223920.
  • The Milk Churn Farm ShopThe 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.
  • The Angel – 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
  • The Swan – The Swan is closed until further notice…hopefully, not too long!

St. Columba’s Church

Topcliffe St Columba’s PCC has agreed that the following service will be held:

• No services will be held today (31 January).

• Sunday, 7 February – Evensong at 6.30pm.

A great deal of work has been done on risk assessments for 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. Everyone is required to confirm, when signing in for track and trace purposes, that they are not to their knowledge exhibiting any Covid symptoms. Any changes in the rules or legislation regarding church opening and services will be included in a future email.

Bin Collections

Hambleton (Topcliffe):

• Refuse – Mondays 1 and 15 February

• Recycling – Thursday 11 and 25 February

• Green waste – collections start again Thursday 25 February

Harrogate (Asenby):

• Recycling – Mondays 1 and 15 February

• Refuse – Mondays 8 and 22 February

• Green waste – suspended until mid-March

Green waste licence renewal

Subscriptions for new licences from both councils for 2021-22 are now being taken.

Subscriptions for a new Hambleton licence for the year 2021-22 will cost £40 per licence per bin. To subscribe or for further information please visit

Subscriptions for a new licence from Harrogate Borough Council for 2021-22 will cost £41 per bin. You will receive nineteen fortnightly collections – that’s around £2 per collection. To subscribe or for more information please visit

That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.

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