Hello and welcome to the 46th issue of this regular Sunday email.
I am sure that, like me, you are all eagerly awaiting the Prime Minister’s announcement tomorrow regarding how we will move out of the lockdown. He has promised to set out a ‘roadmap’ showing how we will get back to normality, starting with schools reopening on 8 March. A huge amount rests on the right decisions being made, so let’s hope that whatever decision is taken it’s based on data not dates.
I hope you find this email’s 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
• There have been more than 4.1 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. Yesterday a further 10, 406 cases were confirmed.
• 3,516,595 Covid tests were conducted last week. The number of new cases of Covid fell by 20% compared to the previous week.
• 1,492 people were admitted to hospital on a daily basis (10,827 in the week). Those figures are 22% down on the previous week. But more than 18,000 Covid patients are currently in hospital.
• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – has dropped again and is now between 0.6 and 0.9, which is again very encouraging.
• Nearly 17.3 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. So far, 606,0000 second doses have been administered.
• Yesterday 445 UK deaths were reported. There were 3,457 in the seven-day period to Saturday. These two figures represents a 28% drop on the previous week, so the downward trend is continuing.
The total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at 120,365. The number of deaths where Covid is actually mentioned on the death certificate has reached 129,498.
The number of deaths in North Yorkshire is now 1,031. Worldwide, the number of deaths is now over 2.46 million.
React study shows strong decline in levels of Covid
There has been a "strong decline" in levels of Covid infections since January, say scientists tracking the epidemic. Imperial College London’s React study found infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began. But one in 200 people tested positive between 4 and 13 February, which is similar to levels seen in late September 2020. Although these are interim findings, based on more than 85,000 swab tests from randomly selected people, they suggest social distancing and restrictions are having an impact. Prof Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said that the drop in infection rates was ‘really encouraging’.
This weekend Prime Minister Boris Johnson is busily checking new data on the effect of vaccines on the spread of Covid, ahead of Monday’s publication of a roadmap for easing the lockdown. Already the government has announced that care home residents will be allowed to pick one person to visit them regularly from 8 March. Visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test before entry and personal protective equipment must be worn. Residents will be asked not to hug or kiss their relatives, though hand holding will be permitted. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the rule change was a ‘first step to getting back to where we want to be’. We’re also likely to hear about how people can socialise outdoors and moves allowing people to safely reunite with family members.
The key data that will be looked at to ease lockdown restrictions fall into six categories: the rate of new cases of coronavirus, the number of hospital admissions and patients, the success of the vaccine rollout, the level of deaths, the estimated number of infections within the community population and the estimated reproduction number (R), or growth, of the virus
The UK government achieved its target of vaccinating 15 million people in the top four priority groups by 15 February. The next target is to have everyone in the next five priority groups to be offered their first dose by 15 April. That’s a further 17.2 million people in priority groups 5-9 (see below) to be immunised over a 10 week period.
- 5 – Those aged 65 and over (2.9 million)
- 6 – All individuals aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality (7.3 million)
- 7 – Those aged 60 and over (1.8 million)
- 8 – Those aged 55 years and over (2.4 million)
- 9 – Those aged 50 years of age and over (2.8 million).
The government has also promised that all UK adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by the end of July.
Why there is up to 12 weeks between doses of the vaccine?
Both the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provide high levels of efficacy after the first dose. By giving as many people as possible the first dose of the vaccine, the NHS is giving a greater number of people significant protection from the virus at a greater pace. This protects those who are most vulnerable and likely to suffer the worst effects of Covid. Simply put, every time a person is vaccinated for a second time, someone else cannot get a jab for the first time.
Why is it important to keep following the rules once you have been vaccinated?
The information available on the vaccines in use at this point is that they are highly effective. However, they are not 100% effective, so there is still a chance you can get infected with Covid, but it’s highly likely to be much less severe. It’s not known if the vaccines stop you from passing the virus onto others, so while they will offer significant protection to the individual, you could still pass on Covid to someone who has not been vaccinated. It is therefore important that even if you are vaccinated, you continue to follow the national guidelines to keep others safe and that if you are asked to, or someone in your household has symptoms or tests positive, you still self-isolate.
Book a coronavirus test locally
Every day sites 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
Latest on schools
The Prime Minister has told MPs that the government hopes to start reopening English schools on Monday 8 March, depending on factors including the rate of vaccination amongst priority groups. He said the government will tell teachers and parents when schools can reopen ‘as soon as we can’. But he would not guarantee that this would be before the Easter holidays. This is expected to be accompanied by a series of announcements on schools in the following days – with funding for catch-up classes, details of how testing will work and how cancelled GCSEs and A-levels will be replaced this summer. There could also be a campaign to build parental confidence in the safety of the return to school, with many pupils having been at home and studying online since the start of the Christmas holidays.
Hambleton Heroes wanted
There’s only a week left to nominate an individual or organisation for a Hambleton Hero award. If you know someone who has gone above and beyond to help other people during the pandemic and lockdown, why not put them forward? See the link to the webpage with a short and easy to complete nomination form. The deadline is 1 March 2021.
Help hold Crime Commissioner to account
North Yorkshire residents are being invited to the latest online meeting with the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. The meeting – starting 1.30pm on Tuesday 23 February – will focus on how the police deal with stalking and harassment and how the fire service defines and manages risk. It’s part of a public accountability series of meetings. Members of the public can send in their questions before or during the session. Julia Mulligan said: “These meetings give members of the public and staff the opportunity to understand the performance of both services and hear what they are doing to keep us safe and feeling safe. “I encourage everyone to join in and watch, and if you have a question, please ask it”. The agenda, along with presentations and reports are available on the Commissioner’s website here: http://bit.ly/PAM23Feb2021
To ask a question on this month’s hot topics in advance of the meeting, please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org please include your name and address with your question.
Budget Day – Wednesday 3 March
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out the government’s plans to haul the UK economy out of the deepest recession in 300 years in his Budget speech in two weeks’ time. This will be his second budget since becoming Chancellor. He has said the budget will ‘deliver the next phase of our plan to support our recovery from coronavirus and protect jobs’.
It looks like Hambleton District Council will freeze local council tax for the next year. The proposal was considered at a recent online Cabinet meeting and members agreed unanimously to recommend the freeze to the full council at a meeting set to take place next Tuesday, 23 February. It is usual for council tax to increase year on year but due to the unprecedented strain this year has put on people financially, it seems the council feels it is only right to consider keeping the rate the same.
- Harrogate Borough Council has agreed their rates will increase by the maximum amount allowed by law before a referendum is required. That means a £5 increase on an average Band D property.
- Both Topcliffe and Asenby Parish Councils have agreed a standstill on their parish precepts.
- North Yorkshire County Council has agreed a rise of 3.49% and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner has agreed an increase of 1.99%.
Watch out for those bills – with much more detail – arriving next month.
Topcliffe Parish Council
The next ordinary Parish Council will be meeting via Zoom on Thursday 4 March at 7pm. Any members of the public wishing to join in electronically should contact the clerk for log in details by mid-day on the day of the meeting by email to email@example.com 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.
At an Extra Ordinary meeting of the Parish Council last week, councillors expressed views on two village planning applications submitted to Hambleton District Council. They supported the construction of a car port at Apple Tree House and proposals for a garage attached to the Methodist Chapel, though they expressed concerns about traffic safety.
Asenby Parish Council
The next Asenby Parish Council meeting will be held online at 7.30pm on Wednesday 17 March 2021. Residents wishing to join this meeting electronically should email the clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org for log in details.
Dog dirt and litter
Has anyone else noticed that the amount of dog poo and litter on the streets and lanes around our two villages has increased again in recent weeks? Following appeals included in Sunday Emails last year the situation seemed to improve significantly, but now it seems people are falling back into old and inexcusable habits. It’s not difficult to clean up after your dog, nor is it difficult to take your litter home.
St. Columba’s Church
St Columba’s PCC has decided to hold the following services:
• Sunday, 21 February at 10.45 am, Matins (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 24 February at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday, 3 March at 7pm, Compline
• Sunday, 7 March at 6.30 pm, Evensong (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 10 March at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday, 17 March at 7pm, Compline
• Sunday, 21 March at 10.45 am, Matins (Book of Common Prayer)
• Wednesday, 24 March at 7pm, Compline
• Wednesday 31 March 7pm, Compline
Compline (Night Prayers) is a short evening service (no more than 15 minutes) of prayers, readings and responses, providing a simple and peaceful way to close the day – and is well worth a try!
The PCC hope that Rev’d Terry Dyer will be able to come and conduct a service of Holy Communion for Easter, either on Saturday evening 3 April, or on Easter Sunday morning 4 April, but that of course will be subject to future government announcements about any lifting of Covid restrictions. As regards to Covid, the PCC does continually assess the risks and it operates ‘track and trace’ arrangement. All the usual precautions apply – please bring a face covering with you – and we will provide hand sanitiser for use before and after each service. Most importantly, for everyone’s sake, if you have any suspicion you might have contracted Covid-19, please don’t join us on that particular occasion.
• Thirsk Garden Centre is open 10am to 4pm for all your gardening requirements. The coffee shop is closed. https://www.thirskgardencentre.co.uk/
• Fish and Chips – The Fish & Chip van is in Topcliffe on Fridays between 5 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.
• 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 – Until the lockdown restrictions end, the shop will close at 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Thursdays and Saturdays it will close at 1pm. Don’t
forget that the farm shop is operating a home delivery service to anyone in Topcliffe, Asenby or Cundall who is isolating. They are also making free deliveries to Dalton, Sessay and Husthwaite every
Tuesday and to Rainton, Dishforth and Ripon areas every Wednesday (£10 minimum order applies). Ring 01845 400446 to arrange a delivery. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/
• The Angel – The Angel ‘Dine at Home’ takeaway service has a new menu. 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 – The Swan is closed until further notice.
Plan ahead for Mother’s Day (Sunday 14 March)
The Tea Time Café is organising Afternoon Teas for Mother’s day. The menu is attached to this email. The teas are £16 per person and can be ordered online at www.teatimeyorkshire.co.uk or by telephone 01845 523869. Orders must be in by Monday 8 March.
• Recycling & green waste – Thursdays 25 February and 11 and 25 March
• Refuse – Mondays 1, 15 and 29 March
• Refuse – Mondays 22 February and 8 and 22 March
• Recycling – Mondays 1, 15 and 29 March
• Green waste – Thursday 11 and 25 March
Green waste will only be collected if you have paid the subscription for 2020-21.
• A Hambleton licence for the year 2021-22 will cost £40 per licence per bin. To subscribe or for further information please visit www.hambleton.gov.uk/newbins
• A licence from Harrogate for 2021-22 will cost £41 per bin. 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.