I’d like to wish all readers a very Happy Easter. Welcome to the 52nd issue of this regular Sunday email. We’ve reached that amazing milestone of one year’s worth of emails. Who would have thought that the pandemic would still be going on or these emails being issued after all this time? I get the distinct impression that these messages have been helpful and appreciated, so I am happy to have played my part in helping to keep residents informed about the Covid situation and village matters.
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
• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – remains between 0.7 and 0.9.
• Nearly 31.4 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. And the number of second doses now exceeds 5.2 million – that’s 10% of adults and 50% of over 80s have had the second jab,
• There have been more than 4.33 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. Yesterday 3,423 cases were confirmed.
• Over 7 million Covid tests were conducted last week.
• 273 people were admitted to hospital yesterday (2,245in the week). The number of Covid patients in hospital dropped again, week on week, to a new low of 3,536 (4,560 last week).
• Yesterday only 10 UK deaths were reported. That’s the lowest daily number since last September. There were 254 in the seven-day period to Saturday. Deaths from Covid have fallen by 43% in a week.
• The total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at over 126,826. Worldwide, the number of deaths is now almost 2.85 million.
The Roadmap out of Lockdown
Since last Monday we’ve had a range of freedoms returned to us including being able to meet outdoors with up to five other people from different households. Two households totalling more than six people have also been able to meet outdoors – giving greater flexibility for friends and families. We’re still not allowed to meet others indoors and at all times the advice is that we maintain social distance, exercise hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required. On a wider front, outdoor sport and leisure facilities have reopened, with any number of children and adults allowed to participate. Formally organised outdoor parent and child groups with up to 15 parents have again started to operate. We are advised to continue to minimise travel – it’s up to our own judgement what is reasonable. And there’s definitely no holidays yet.
As long as the four tests that govern the relaxation of rules are met, we can now look forward to 12 April which i the next key date on the roadmap. On that day:
• All retail shops, as well as hairdressers, beauty salons and other ‘close contact services’ will be allowed to open.
• Indoor leisure, including gyms and spas, can reopen for use individually or within household groups.
• Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain.
• Domestic holidays and overnight stays in the UK will be permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household.
• Children allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them.
• Libraries, community centres, outdoor attractions, theme parks, zoos and drive-in cinemas can reopen.
• Funerals (30 attendees), wakes, weddings and receptions (15 attendees) will be able to take place.
• Rules on visits to care homes will be relaxed to allow two people indoors (children under two years of age can also visit).
The ‘rule of 6’ or two households mixing outdoors will still apply… and still no household mixing indoors. People should continue to work from home where they can and the advice is to minimise domestic travel. International holidays are still not allowed at this stage.
Update on Monday
It’s understood that the Prime Minister will give an update on the Covid situation tomorrow. According to media sources, he is expected to confirm that data suggests the next stage of lockdown will be able to ease as planned on 12 April. Another suggestion is that he could announce a traffic light system for foreign travel, with countries being categorised as red, amber or green. However, a restart for international travel is not on the cards until 17 May at the earliest.
Progress with vaccination programme
Over 31.4 million people have now received a first dose of a vaccine and more than 5.2 million people have had a second jab. Priority groups 1-9 of the first phase of the vaccination programme is very nearly complete. Phase two – groups 10 to 12 – covers all adults aged between 18 and 49 and they will be offered a first dose by the end of July. Before then most people in phase one will have been called for that all-important second dose…and as you can see, the numbers are rising rapidly week on week. Closer to home the vaccination roll-out is equally impressive with 410,000 people across North Yorkshire and York having had their first vaccine and 48,000 a second dose. The county is on course to meet all of the government’s vaccination targets, so by July all adults over 18 will have had their Covid jab. The vaccination take-up so far in the county is 88.5 per cent. That means 47,000 are still to take up their vaccine offer. The authorities are asking friends, neighbours and family to encourage anyone they know who has not so far had a jab to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Are Covid passports on the cards?
The government has said that no final decision has been made about the idea of launching Covid passports or certificates. The Daily Telegraph has reported that a series of pilot tests for Covid passports were being planned as part of a review into whether such a system could help to boost the economy. The report suggests that theatres and stadiums will be involved in the first vaccine certificates rollout, with pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas possibly taking it up later on. Speaking during a visit to Middlesbrough on Thursday, the Prime Minister said: “There’s definitely going to be a world in which international travel will use vaccine passports. You can see already that other countries, and the aviation industry, are interested in this and there’s a logic to that.” But not everyone is in favour of introducing passports. More than 70 cross-party MPs and peers have launched a campaign opposing Covid passports, stating that any demand to prove vaccination status to access jobs, businesses or services would be divisive and discriminatory.
The Covid Testing
Tests for people with symptoms
Testing sites in North Yorkshire are operated and managed by the Department of Health and Social Care/NHS and private contractors employed by them. People who don’t have access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, can ring the 119 service to book their test. The permanent testing sites are open every day for between 8am and 11:30am. The nearest permanent testing sites are:
• Harrogate – Dragon Road Car Park, Dragon Road, Harrogate, HG1 5DB
• Northallerton – The Forum, Bullamore Road, Northallerton, DL6 1LP
A full list of NHS Mobile testing sites can be viewed on the county council’s website at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/book-coronavirus-covid-19-test Mobile sites are open for testing from 8am to 8pm. Before you attend at either a permanent or mobile site 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
Tests if you live or work with a nursery/school/college student
If you live, work or are in a support bubble with nursery, primary or secondary school pupils or college students you should carry out lateral flow device tests at home twice a week. Testing kits can be collected from the two permanent sites listed above every day between 1pm and 8pm.
Sweet and Savoury Crepes
Now here’s a special treat for anyone who happens to be planning a walk down Catton Lane past Topcliffe Mill on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon (5 April). Jen Gould will have her classic 1969 Citroen catering van parked up at The Mill car park between 12 noon and 4pm and she’ll be serving coffee and crepes for free (or more precisely free unless you’d be happy to make a donation to raise funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance!). It’s a test run for Jen so she’ll also be looking for constructive suggestions/criticisms/seals of approval before she takes her van out to events during the summer. Looking at the weather forecast it might not be the best of days but Jen will go ahead unless gale force winds and snow drifts prevent her from doing so.
Bags2School textile recycling
It’s only two weeks until the next bags2School recycling event is staged at the front gates of the Village Hall on Front Street, Topcliffe. Have you started to undertake a spring clean yet? If you’re sorting out your cupboards and wardrobes, please bag your unwanted items and bring the Village Hall on Friday 23 April 2021 between 8.30am and 12 noon. The proceeds of the event will be shared between the Village Hall and Scouts’ Association.
The following items are welcomed: men’s, ladies and children’s clothing – paired shoes (tied together or elastic band around) – handbags – hats – bags – scarves and ties – jewellery – lingerie – socks – belts – soft toys – household linen – household curtains – household towels – household bedding (bed sheets, pillow-cases and duvet covers). We are unable to accept duvets and blankets, pillows and cushions, carpets, rugs and mats (including bath, shower and toilet mats), soiled, painted, ripped or wet clothing, school uniforms, corporate clothing and workwear or textile off cuts or yarns.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: Have your say on Dalton planning application…and make sure our villages are protected from further traffic congestion
Do you want more lorries, more cars, more noise and more smells in our villages – 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If not, you need to act NOW and have your say on a major new planning application currently being considered by Hambleton District Council. Unless everyone acts now to have the application changed, or planning conditions applied, we will experience many more heavy lorries, hundreds of extra cars each day, and noise, light and odour pollution in our villages.
The proposal is for a 43-acre site mixed industrial and distribution centre development just over Dalton Bridge. This is much closer to Topcliffe and Asenby than the current Industrial Estate. It will clearly bring many more HGVs. It is forecast to bring an additional 1,000 jobs to the site, which is good news on thew employment front, but that means many more cars will be going through our two villages as people drive to and from work.
The developers, North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department and Hambleton District Council planners have already indicated a willingness to hear and address our concerns. The developer has recently offered some changes in response to what villagers have already said. So, it is worth speaking up. We need to make our voices heard and shout about the worries we have. We must do this NOW so that our concerns can be addressed during the planning process. Once the plan is approved it is too late!
The greater the number of people that respond, the more impact we will have. If we stay silent it will be too late. Please take some time over the next few days to respond to the consultation and comment on the plan. You can add your views to the planning application at: https://planning.hambleton.gov.uk/online-applications/caseDetails.do?caseType=Application&keyVal=QO7ZETHUHHI00 This link will take you straight to the planning application. But if for any reason it does not work for you, simply Google Hambleton Council’s website, look for ‘Planning’ and ‘Applications’, and follow the instructions on how to find an individual application. The reference number is 21/00331/HYB, which can be inserted in the search box. The closing date for comments is Friday, 9 April 2021.
Parish Councillors have met with Hambleton Councils planners and district and county councillors. They have said that the best way to have our voice heard and concerns addressed is for as many individuals as possible to respond to the consultation. Please act NOW. You should set out as briefly as possible what your concerns are. If you are requesting a particular solution (e.g., better road signs) state that too. It is important that you respond in your own words. You can use the following checklist to ensure that you have covered the main points:
• It is best to register your response as ‘Neutral’ and say you support the application in principle, subject to your concerns being addressed.
• You might wish to welcome any new jobs the development may bring.
• Flag up concerns about additional HGV traffic in our villages, noting this is already a problem from existing businesses at Dalton.
• Mention that the existing road signage is totally inadequate and that enforcement of weight limit restrictions is extremely poor.
• State that the developer’s assumptions that traffic will all use the A168 for access and egress, and not come through our two villages, is not our reality.
• Refer to concerns about additional light traffic and cars in the villages, with up to 1,000 extra employees going to and from work on site.
• Express your concerns about proposed operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the impact of traffic movements, HGVs and cars, through the villages.
• You can ask for improvements to direction signs, weight limit signs, weight limit enforcement and for planning conditions to be applied specifying vehicle routes to and from the site avoiding Topcliffe and
Asenby, limiting access/egress times, etc.). You can also ask for other solutions you have in mind.
• Add reference to concerns about potential additional noise, light and odours as this development is very close to Topcliffe, may operate 24/7, and food production odours are already a problem.
• Request that the developer and the council’s planners work closely with Topcliffe and Asenby Parish Councils in considering this application.
Protect your car – Locked, Lit and Empty campaign
Car crime is a real problem in the UK. Alarmingly, one car is stolen every ten minutes. With Covid-19 and the recent lockdowns, many people aren’t driving or checking on their cars as much as they used to. That’s why Neighbourhood Watch, is reminding car owners to remain vigilant about where and how they park their cars, in order to keep them safe. Apparently, most car crimes happen because cars are left unlocked. There is a misconception that some cars are auto-locking and lock themselves if left unattended after a period of time. This isn’t always correct. Another misconception is that a car is too old and no one will bother stealing it. This is also incorrect – both new and old cars are at risk. Having a car stolen or broken into is more than simply a hassle, it can impact on people’s livelihoods. The good news is that there are simple steps everyone can take to help reduce the risk to their car. With only a 46% recovery rate Neighbourhood Watch is reminding everyone to leave their car locked, lit and empty.
- Locked – a simple mistake that can prove calamitous: 44% of cars are broken into via an unlocked door.
- Lit – 80% of car crime occurs during the evening or at night. Parking near street lights or in a busy area can deter thieves.
- Empty (or with no items on show) – owners often forget that personal belongings within the car are at as much risk of being stolen as the car itself.
Take a look at this video for more information: www.ourwatch.org.uk/protectyourcar
Parish Council meetings
• Topcliffe Parish Council met online last Thursday and in due course the minutes will be available to read on the village website at www.topcliffe.org.uk The next meeting on Thursday 6 May 2021 will be the Parish Council’s Annual Meeting and it will also be online.
• Asenby Parish Council’s Annual Meeting will be held at 7.30pm on 19 May 2021. Check out details on www.asenby.net Details of the venue will be announced in due course.
Local Government Reorganisation
There’s a consultation underway about the planned reorganisation of local government in North Yorkshire. The last date for comments is Monday, 19 April 2021. You can express a view at https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/northyorkshire/
The Police and Crime Commissioner election will take place on 6 May 2021. The Village Hall will be the Polling Station in Topcliffe. Asenby residents will have to travel to Rainton Village Hall to vote.
Services at St Columba’s Church
• Sunday, 11 April, 10.45am – Holy Communion (Rev Terry Dyer)
• Sunday, 18 April, 10.45am – Matins
• Sunday, 25 April, 10.45am – Holy Communion – (Rev Terry Dyer)
The PCC continually assesses the Covid 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, please don’t join us on that particular occasion.
The Angel at Topcliffe
The Angel is now taking bookings for outdoor dining and drinking from 15 April. Tables are available for up to six people and there’ll be marquees erected over each table to protect customers from inclement weather. There’s limited space, so you’re advised to book early. Call 01845 578000 (phones are only monitored Wednesday to Saturday 3.30-8pm and 11am-6pm on Sundays). Don’t forget your coat or your blanket. Garden dining will see a limited food menu including burgers, skewers, steak pies etc as well as lunchtime sandwiches, sharers and daily specials. Temporary openings times are: Wednesday – Thursday 12 noon – 9pm (food served 12 noon – 2.30pm and 5 – 8pm); Friday 12 noon – 10.30pm (food served 12 noon – 2.30pm and 5 – 8pm); Saturday 12 noon to 10.30pm (food served 12 noon – 8pm); Sunday 12 noon – 9pm (food served 12 noon – 7pm). Closed Mondays and Tuesdays until 16 May. The regular ‘Dine at Home’ takeaway service menu has been changed. It’s also on The Angel’s website. 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 or follow The Angel on Facebook to get regular updates.
The Elm Gallery
Liz and Dave are looking forward to reopening The Elm Gallery on Monday the 12 of April. The gallery will be open every day from 10am to 5.30pm in the first week then it will revert to the normal opening times and will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It will now be possible for two people or two households to be in the gallery at the same time, keeping a safe distance from each other. When there are two people/groups in the gallery, there will be a notice on the inside door asking people to wait until someone comes out. Liz and Dave have been very busy during lockdown creating new paintings and the new originals will be on display. Liz has also been busy making lots of new bags, so there will be plenty to see. Call 01845 577316 or 07709 223920 or check out the website at: www.the-elm-gallery.co.uk
Other Local Traders
• Topcliffe Post Office – Opening hours are: Shop – weekdays 7am to 5pm and Saturday 7 to 11.30am. Post Office – weekdays 8.30am to 5pm and Saturday 8.30 to 11.30am. Both closed on Sundays.
• Chip ‘n Dales – The Fish & Chip van is in Topcliffe on Fridays between 5 and 7pm.
• The Milk Churn Farm Shop – Current opening times are: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9-5pm. Thursday and Saturday 9-1pm. Once lockdown has been lifted, Saturday openings will return to
9 to 5pm. The shop is still operating a one out, one in system to protect customers and staff. Ring 01845 400446. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/ Takeaway teas and coffees with cake have
resumed. Why not enjoy a walk and call in for a freshly made hot chocolate or other hot drinks…or for an ice cream?
• The Swan – The Swan remains closed for now but is planning to reopen on Monday 14 April. George, Jane and their staff look forward to welcoming everyone.
• Recycling & green waste – Friday 9 April (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday) and Thursday 22 April.
• Refuse – Mondays 12 & 26 April.
• Refuse – Tuesday 6 April (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday) and Monday 19 April.
• Garden waste – Friday 9 April (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday) and Thursday 22 April.
• Recycling – Mondays 12 and 26 April.
That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.