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Sunday Email: Issue 53

Welcome to the 53rd issue of this regular Sunday email. 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

• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – remains between 0.7 and 0.8.

• Over 32 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. And the number of second doses is 7 million. On Friday the largest number of second doses was administered – 450,135 jabs.

• There have been more than 4.37 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. Yesterday 2,589 cases were confirmed (18,970 in seven days).

• Over 5 million Covid tests were conducted last week. That’s two million down on the week before.

• 221 people were admitted to hospital yesterday (1,606 in the week). The number of Covid patients in hospital dropped again, week on week, to a new low of 3,124 (3,536 last week).

• Yesterday 40 UK deaths were reported. There were 254 in the seven-day period to Saturday (that’s the same number as the week before).

• The total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at over 127,080. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 150,000 deaths

registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. Worldwide, the number of deaths now exceeds 2.9 million.

The Roadmap out of Lockdown

Currently we are able to meet outdoors with up to five other people from different households, and two households totalling more than six people are also now able to meet outdoors. We’re still not allowed to meet others indoors. 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. At all times the advice is that we maintain social distance, exercise hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required. On 12 April the following relaxations come into force:

• 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.

Covid passport controversy

Controversy over vaccine passports burst into the open last week after an official government paper confirmed that they are ‘likely to become a feature of our lives’ and made clear that a national scheme is being drawn up for their possible use to access nightclubs, theatres, festivals and sporting events, as well as international travel after the end of lockdown on 21 June. The document indicated that passports might be optional for pubs and restaurants but ruled out asking people to prove their Covid status to use public transport or enter “essential’ retail premises. But it did not spell out exactly which shops would be exempt and later it became clear that Downing Street is considering making them mandatory for clothes shoppers. That caused anguish among the industry and many MPs. Trials of vaccine passports and other Covid security measures are to be carried out at clubs, cinemas and sports events over the coming weeks, culminating in a bid to allow 20,000 football fans into Wembley for the FA Cup Final on 15 May and a full house at The Snooker World Championships in Sheffield on 3 May. No final decision on whether to go ahead is expected before these pilots are complete, with the crucial vote likely to come as late as June.

Progress with vaccination programme

  • Over 32 million people have now received a first dose of a vaccine and 7 million people have had a second jab. Phase two of the priority programme – groups 10 to 12 – covers all adults aged between 18 and 49 and it’s still intended 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.
  • It was always known that the vaccination programme would slow down in April, but over the Easter holidays the reduction in numbers was much greater than anyone anticipated. On Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday the lowest daily rate of jabs were given since the start of the programme in January. Things have picked up again since then.
  • The vaccination programme has prevented the deaths of some 10,400 older people in England since it began, new analysis suggests. According to its estimates, 9,100 deaths were prevented in those aged 80 and over, 1,200 were avoided in those aged 70 to 79, and 100 lives were saved in those aged 60 to 69.
  • A trial of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine on children has been paused while a rare link with blood clots is investigated. Regulators are carrying out a review into reports that a very small number of recently-immunised people suffered an extremely rare form of blood clot, called a cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT). Seven people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK have died from unusual blood clots – though a total of 18.1 million doses of the jab were administered up to and including 24 March. Experts continue to state that the benefits of the jab far outweigh the risks One expert said: “It’s not so much about looking at the absolute risk, it’s weighing up the risk and benefit. In the context of a pandemic – you’ve got to be clear the vaccine is going to reduce the chances of you becoming sick."
  • There’s now a third vaccine being administered in the UK. Last week the first dose of the Moderna vaccine was given in Wales and it will now be available throughout the UK. A total of 17 million doses of Moderna have been ordered by the government.
  • Here’s an odd snippet spotted the other day: the Knaresborough vaccine centre had 210 ‘no shows’ over two days. That is a truly terrible situation and if that level of no shows is repeated at other centres, that’s an appalling waste of appointments and NHS time. We have to hope that the authorities are tackling the problem.

International travel still up in the air

An interim review into the restart of international travel concluded that for the moment people should not book summer holidays abroad yet, but instead wait until the picture is clearer. Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, our government is not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from 17 May, the date pencilled in the roadmap. Taking into account the latest situation with variants and the evidence about the efficacy of vaccines against them, Ministers appear unwilling to confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume as initially planned, or whether there’ll be more delay before the outbound travel restriction is lifted. At last Monday’s press conference it was confirmed that the UK ban on international travel, when lifted, will be replaced with a traffic light system that designates countries either green, amber, or red. While returnees from red and amber countries will need to comply with quarantine rules, those arriving from green countries will be able to avoid a period of self-isolation if they pay for coronavirus tests. The plan has raised concerns that the cost of holidaying will sky-rocket unless away is found to make the tests affordable. Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said he will be looking at why these tests cost so much in the UK compared with other countries. He added that the ‘colour’ of countries in the traffic light system will be announced early May.

The Covid Testing

Lateral Flow Tests

Anyone, even those without symptoms, are now able to take a free rapid lateral flow test twice a week. Test kits are available from various designated sites and pharmacies or through a home ordering service. If someone returns a positive test, they will need to take a more accurate PCR test.

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 (Interestingly, this coronavirus testing centre will close on 1 June).

• 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 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: Use North Yorkshire County Council’s website to request a home test –

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.

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh

Funeral preparations are under way for Prince Philip who died on Friday aged 99. The ceremonial royal funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, at 3pm on Saturday, 17 April. The event will be televised. The duke will have a ceremonial funeral, rather than a state funeral. There is a subtle difference – state funerals are usually reserved for monarchs, although wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was given a state funeral. Regardless of protocol, Prince Philip asked for minimum fuss and indicated he did not want to lie in state.

St Columba’s Church

The church will be open for private reflection and the lighting on candles from 2pm to 6.30pm today (Sunday). Everyone is very welcome to come along. There will be stewards to direct as necessary. As always covid rules apply. Plans are afoot to hold a special service of Choral Evensong in memory of Prince Philip next Friday, 16 April (on the Eve of his funeral) at 6.30pm. There’ll be an extra email distributed later this week to confirm details. (See service details in later entry).

Books of Remembrance

Because of the continuing covid restrictions, St Columba’s will be not have a book of condolence to sign. However, the Church of England has an online book of condolence at In addition, you add a message of condolence on this Royal site A selection of messages will be passed onto members of the Royal Family, and may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.

Asenby Bus Stop Library

Heather and David Allon have expressed their thanks to all of those who have given support to the Bus Stop Library over the last year or so. Although local libraries will be opening this month it is intended to continue with the Bus Stop Library for as long as residents continue to use it.

Bird Feeders of Topcliffe

Last year in one of these Sunday Emails it was mentioned that Malc and Karen Morley had set up bird feeders at several points across the bridge along Winn Lane. They took care of the feeders, filled them every day and were pleased that they were attracting all sorts of interesting birds. What a great story. Problem is that this week the news is that someone has destroyed the bird feeders. Karen and Malc are obviously very upset that somebody could smash the feeders and deprive villagers out on their walks from enjoying the birdlife. And of course, the birds have been deprived of their daily meals too…at least until the feeders are replaced. Why anyone would do this is a complete mystery and if anyone involved has a conscience, they may want to tell the police who did it.

And vandalism at the Playing Field

Whilst we are on the subject of vandalism, somebody must know who is systematically destroying the roof of the climbing frame/play equipment on the playing field. The equipment is being torn apart bit by bit and before long it will be unsuitable for use by local children. Could people please keep an eye out for any wanton vandalism? It’s the minority who are trying to spoil things for everyone else.

Bags2School textile recycling

The next Bags2School recycling event will be held outside the Village Hall on Front Street, Topcliffe on Friday 23 April. The organisers are hoping that villagers have started their spring clean and have sorted out lots of textiles to donate. If you’re sorting out your cupboards and wardrobes, please bag your unwanted items and bring the Village Hall a week Friday 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.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance benefits from coffee and crepes

Dozens of people enjoyed coffee and crepes from Van Chaud (Hot Van) on Bank Holiday Monday, raising over £400 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Jen Gould, who lives at The Granary on the Topcliffe Mill site is launching a new catering business from her classic 1969 Citroen van and she served coffee and crepes to anyone passing by. It was a bit of a test run for Jen, her partner Andy and daughters Issy and Lucy, before launching out to cater at private functions, garden parties, local markets and festivals. But throughout the afternoon lots of people ambled by and stopped for refreshments…and in so doing giving the catering team some excellent practice and experience, as well as raising much-needed funding for the Air Ambulance.

Easter Trail a great success

The Easter egg trail through Topcliffe and Asenby was an enormous success with dozens of families looking for eggs over the Easter break. A big thank you to The Milk Churn Farm Shop for organising the distribution and collection of forms. The event raised £85 for The Friends of Topcliffe School. The winner of the Easter Bunny Chocolate hamper was Natalie Henfrey.

Planning deadline extended…local views on traffic just might be getting through!

The consultation on the major Dalton industrial development, which was initially due to end last Friday, has now been extended until for a few weeks. It’s apparent that the council understands the importance of this application and its potential impacts on our two villages. So far over 20 residents have added their comments to the planning application, indicating that there is significant concern locally. Now there is time for more residents to have their say. It is extremely important that as many as possible let the authorities know that developments should only proceed if every action possible is taken to protect our villages from increased traffic and nuisance. We all live with very high levels of traffic, including too many HGVs which are breaking existing weight restrictions and damaging the conservation area in Topcliffe. New developments bring more cars and many more commercial vehicles so, if development plans are approved, they must be accompanied by enforceable safeguards. If you object to more HGVs, cars, noise and smells polluting our villages please take action now.

Please have your say on this major planning application as soon as possible. Unless villagers act 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 greater the number of people that respond, the more impact we will have. If we stay silent it will be too late. The sooner people respond the better chance of getting influencing the developer to change the plans. 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: 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. To help you construct your comment you’ll find key points listed in the attachment. It’s always best to write in your own words, but use the pointers as a checklist.

A little bit of good news

Last week there was some indication that our concerns about the Dalton development may have struck a chord with the developer. Having noted local concerns about a possible increase in HGV movements through Topcliffe and Asenby, and the impact this would have on the villages and communities, the developer’s agents Johnson Mowatt checked existing directional signage on the local road network and concluded that there are elements of possible ambiguity and deficiency which could result in ‘less appropriate’ routes being taken by commercial vehicles. They have drawn up a scheme of improved signage which the company believes will improve this situation and presented it to Hambleton District Council , with a copy to North Yorkshire County Council highways. Johnson Mowatt has indicated that the developer will fund a signage scheme as a planning obligation should permission be granted and the development proceeds. The signage scheme is available to view on the Hambleton planning application website (application ref. 21/00331/HYB). It’s a welcome start, though the scheme isn’t as comprehensive as it needs to be. Nonetheless the scheme shows good faith and shows a willingness to listen and act upon residents’ concerns.

Parish Council meetings

• Topcliffe Parish Council – the AGM will be on Thursday 6 May 2021 and it will also be online. Check out the website at

• Asenby Parish Council – the Annual Meeting will be held at 7.30pm on 19 May 2021. Check out details on Details of the venue will be announced in due course.

May Election

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.

The Village Hall

The Village Hall Committee met online last Thursday evening to consider the government’s roadmap out of lockdown and set a date for the restart of activities in the hall. It has been decided that plans will be made to reopen the hall for existing hirers (those that were hiring sessions prior to the pandemic) from Monday 17 May. New bookings for events such as parties will not be possible until 21 June. The use of the hall for polling purposes on 6 May is a special one-off booking.

Some Pleasure & Leisure

Kipling Hall & Gardens – now open six days a week (closed on Thursdays) 10am-5pm. There will be takeaway refreshments served from the tearoom menu. There is a one-way system and toilets are open.

The Hall itself remains closed for the time being. Tel: 01748 818178. You can just turn up, tickets not necessary.

Newby Hall & Gardens – the gardens, playground, restaurant (outdoor) are ow open. The miniature railway and river boat will open from 14 April. The House, Dolls House exhibition and Teddy Bear House

will open on 19 May, but the dancing water jets (Tarantella) are likely to remain closed until 23 June. Telephone 01423 322583 or checkout the website at

Lightwater Valley – will re-open to visitors on Saturday 17 April. In order to manage numbers and ensure social distancing guidelines are maintained, the theme park will initially be operating with reduced

capacity. Telephone 01765 635321. Book tickets online

Mother Shipton’s Cave at Knaresborough is open but online booking is essential. 10.00am – 5.30pm. Telephone 01423 864600 Tickets: Online

HowStean Gorge – visitors can explore natural caves, walk through flowing ravines, climb up rocks, participate in a high wire adventure, and more! Reopens on the Monday 12 April for the gorge and caves

attraction, outdoor activities and cafe (eat out only).

Dalby Forest – key facilities have remained open and Forestry England is now working to fully reopen safely. Please plan your trip to avoid crowding. Park responsibly, legally and not blocking gates. Stick to

marked trails and forest tracks. No fires or BBQs.

• Castle Howard – 1000 acres of parkland and sweeping vistas, lakeside terraces, woodlands, temples, statues and formal gardens. The Coffee Shop is open daily 9am-5pm and the Boathouse Café 10am-3pm

Monday – Friday) and from 10am-4pm on weekends, both offering a grab-and-go takeaway offer. Castle Howard Farm Shop and Garden Centre are open daily from 10am-5pm.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum – one of the largest collections of shrubs and trees in the North of England, including the national collections of Ash, Lime, Laburnum, Walnut and Cotinus. The Arboretum is near

Bedale. The playground and garden centre are open. The Tearoom offers a takeaway service for food and drink, with outdoor seating. The bird of prey and mammal centre is not yet open. Mobility

scooters can be pre-booked by phoning 01677 427203. Open daily from 10am-4pm. All visitors, including season ticket holders, must pre-book their tickets at

• Sutton Bank Visitor Centre – the National Park centre will open for retail only on Monday 12 April, 10am-4.30pm daily. The café will be operating a limited takeaway service at their Grab-and-Go Express

hatch (10am-4pm daily). The exhibition area, children’s craft table and seating at the bird watching area remain closed for the time being.

Rievaulx Abbey – escape to this tranquil valley of the North York Moors and discover the impressive ruins of one of England’s most powerful Cistercian monasteries. The grounds of Rievaulx Abbey are

open. Takeaway catering is available but all indoor areas remain closed. You need to book your visit in advance.

• Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal – this World Heritage site’s abbey and water garden as well as the Studley deer park are open. The visitor centre restaurant, Studley tea-room and Mill kiosk are open for

takeaway but the shop remains closed. Please book a ticket online before setting off.

St Columba’s services

• Today, Sunday, 11 April, 10.45am – Holy Communion (Rev Terry Dyer)

• Friday, 16 April (on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral) – A special Evensong at 6.30pm.

• 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.

New flooring centre based in Asenby

There’s a new flooring outlet opening in Asenby this coming week The location may be new, but the business owner started as a carpet fitter nearly 40 years ago and more recently has been operating from units in Carlisle and Stockton-on-Tees. Trading under the name John Ashton Flooring Ltd, the business is starting a local showroom at The Old Hatchery in Asenby. The unit will have a large selection of carpets and flooring to suit all tastes. Viewing will be by appointment only. John Aston Flooring Ltd – 01845 421111 – info

Studio 18 Hairstylist

A unisex hairdressing salon will be launched in Topcliffe tomorrow, 12 April. It’s such a popular idea that bookings are already filling the April calendar. The business, Studio 18, will be run by Nicola James from a well- equipped unit at the rear of 18 Long Street (opposite the surgery) and will be open Monday to Saturday. Nicola has years of experience as a hairstylist and can style the hair of male and female adults as well as children. Initially only one customer at a time can be in the salon so business will be a little slower than normal. For an appointment call Nicola on 07851 034815.

The Angel at Topcliffe

The Angel’s garden is reopening on Thursday 15 April now taking bookings for outdoor dining and drinking. 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 or follow The Angel on Facebook to get regular updates.

The Swan

The Swan will reopen tomorrow – Monday 12 April for drinks and food in an outdoor setting. George, Jane and the team are really looking forward to welcoming back customers old and new. There’ll be a reduced menu available and the take-away service will again be on offer.

The Milk Churn Farm Shop

Current opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9-5pm. Thursday and Saturday 9-1pm. The shop is operating on the basis of two customers in the shop at any one time. This is to protect customers and staff. There are many new lines in fresh and frozen foods. 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? Or order in advance by calling 01845 400446. Thirsk Food Bank is now collecting food and there’s a box at the Farm Shop into which your donations can be placed.

The Elm Gallery

The Elm Gallery is opening tomorrow (12 April). For the first week the gallery will be open every day from 10am to 5.30pm. After that it will revert to the normal opening times and will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Two people or two households are allowed 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:

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.

Bin Collections

Hambleton (Topcliffe):

• Refuse – Mondays 12 & 26 April.

• Recycling & green waste – Thursday 22 April.

Harrogate (Asenby):

• Recycling – Mondays 12 and 26 April.

• Refuse – Monday 19 April.

• Garden waste – Thursday 22 April.

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

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