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Sunday Email: Issue 54

Welcome to the 54th 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 – was between 0.7 and 0.9 last week.

• 32.6 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. And the number of second doses is nearly 9.5 million.

• There have been more than 4.38 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. Yesterday 2,206 cases were confirmed (17,735 in seven days).

• Over 6 million Covid tests were conducted last week. That’s nearly a million each day.

• 221 people were admitted to hospital with Covid yesterday (1,409 in the week).

• There were 35 deaths reported in the UK yesterday. There were 180 in the seven-day period to Saturday.

• The total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at over 127,260. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 151,000 deaths

registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.

• Worldwide, the global death toll from Covid has topped 3 million people amid repeated setbacks to vaccination campaigns and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The Roadmap out of Lockdown

Currently we are able to meet outdoors with up to five other people from different households (that’s the Rule of 6), and two households totalling more than six people are also able to meet outdoors. We’re still not allowed to meet others indoors. Outdoor sport and leisure can operate with any number of children and adults allowed to participate. At all times the advice is that we maintain social distance, exercise hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required.

Last Monday (12 April) the following additional relaxations came into force:

• All retail shops, as well as hairdressers, beauty salons and other ‘close contact services’ are now allowed to open.

• Indoor leisure, including gyms and spas, can now open for use individually or within household groups.

• Restaurants and pub gardens are allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) remain.

• Domestic holidays and overnight stays in the UK are now permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household.

• Children are 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 now reopen.

• Funerals (30 attendees), wakes, weddings and receptions (15 attendees) are able to take place.

• Rules on visits to care homes have been relaxed to allow two people indoors (children under two years of age can also visit).

• People should continue to work from home where they can.

• The advice is to minimise domestic travel…it’s a matter of personal judgment what is reasonable! International travel and holidays are still not allowed at this stage.

The next key date for implementation of the roadmap out of lockdown is 17 May. There’ll be more on the details nearer the date.

New Variants of Concern

New Covid variants appear are an increasing worry, with the latest figures showing a doubling in cases of the South African mutation in the UK in the last month. Data from Public Health England reveals that there are now 600 cases of the South African variant in the UK – up from around 300 a month ago. Officials have embarked on the largest surge testing programme to date amid concern that a number of the infections in London involve people who had already been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 77 cases of a separate variant from India – which it is also feared may resist vaccines – have now been found in the UK. Health officials said these were geographically well spread, meaning surge testing would not be used in an attempt to contain the mutation. Scientists are worried about the arrival of the new Indian variant as it has a double mutation in the spike protein that may make it more able to evade the body’s immune responses. It currently has the label of ‘variant under investigation’ but could be designated a ‘variant of concern’ if it is found to be more infectious or resistant to vaccines.

Message to North Yorkshire Residents (from Richard Flinton, CEO North Yorkshire County Council)

This week has been a critical one in the government’s roadmap out of the pandemic. Last Monday, we saw the easement of some restrictions allowing the reopening of outdoor hospitality, more shops, gyms, hairdressers and beauty therapy businesses and so on. As a result, our communities and high streets have blossomed in the spring sunshine. It is heart-warming and so welcome to see communities becoming lively and vibrant again – there is a sense of relief and excitement that we have managed to get to this point. It’s an achievement you should all be extremely proud of. Your collective efforts over an extended and most challenging period of time have delivered us some of those freedoms we have missed. We can now enjoy the company of others in more outdoors places and shop safely in our high streets. Every day sees more progress in the steps towards recovery and we must continue to nurture this delicate balance. The virus has not gone, but you have played your part in suppressing it. So, to everyone who has stuck to the rules, taken up the offer of a vaccination and supported their local businesses during the three lockdowns – North Yorkshire thanks you and your selfless team spirit.

The Covid transmission rates in North Yorkshire are, overall, below the England average and the lowest we have seen for six months. However, they remain higher than we saw here last summer. To keep us on the right path, this coming week the county council will launch a campaign across North Yorkshire called ‘Unlock Summer’. We hope you will support this as an individual, a business, a school, organisation or community. Because by following the messages, which come straight from our Director of Public Health, that is exactly what we hope to do together – ‘Unlock Summer’. By working together to unlock the next steps we will help avoid a third wave of coronavirus and keep those hard-earned freedoms. So please look out for the ‘Unlock Summer’ messages in our high streets and retail centres, listen out for the radio adverts, which are voiced by local people from across North Yorkshire, help to share the posts across your social media feeds. Most of all, please stick to the hands, face, space and let fresh air in rules.

Holidays abroad

At the moment, foreign holidays are banned, and returning travellers have to quarantine on arrival. According to the roadmap, holidays abroad will be allowed from 17 May, as long as there is no significant setback in the UK Covid statistics or problems in holiday destinations. The plan is that when international travel resumes, countries will be ranked by the Covid risk they pose – in a traffic light system. Details of where countries will be placed in the new traffic light system are not expected until early May. For England, destination countries will be in one of three categories:

  • Green: Passengers will not need to quarantine on return, but must take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on return to the UK.
  • Amber: Travellers will need to quarantine for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests.
  • Red: Passengers will have to pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as a pre-departure test and two PCR tests.

About 40 countries are on the current "red list". It is anticipated the new ratings will be based on vaccinations, infection rate, how common Covid variants of concern are and testing and sequencing capacity.

There will also be a ‘green watchlist’, to give people notice if a country is about to move to amber, or red.

Consumer group Which? estimates that each PCR test – which is just one of the tests needed and which travellers themselves will have to pay for – could cost about £120 per person.

Progress with vaccination programme

More than 32.6 million people have now received a first dose of a vaccine and 9.5 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. Last week, all over 45s were invited to make an appointment for their first jab. It’s still intended that everyone over 18 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.

More than 247,000 people in North Yorkshire have had a first dose and 57,000 have received a second one. But 35,000 people who have been offered a dose failed to take it up. If you are one of them, please seek advice from the local NHS teams. If you know someone who is reluctant to be vaccinated, please tell them that there is advice and support available and try to persuade them to seek it out.

Booster jabs are likely

It’s now becoming clear that we’ll all need booster jabs later this year…and probably every year thereafter. This week the Pfizer vaccine boss Albert Bourla said that people will likely require booster shots within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. He said it will be important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus and battling contagious variants that develop. The thinking is that Covid infections probably won’t ever disappear, so vaccine manufacturers have been hard at work developing boosters to combat new variants or provide protection once immunity to existing shots wears out. Updated results from late-stage trials showed that people who received the Pfizer vaccine still had immunity to the virus at least six months after getting their shots. Moderna’s vaccine has also proved to be highly protective after six months, but researchers still aren’t sure exactly how long this immunity will last. Many experts suspect vaccines will become a yearly routine, similar to flu shots.

Of particular concern is how vaccines respond to the South African variant. Research suggests that shots from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca are all significantly less effective against the variant — but those studies looked at only immune protection from antibodies. A new study indicates that T cells — a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in our immune systems — can also recognise variants, including those that partially evade vaccine-induced antibodies. Both Pfizer and Moderna are developing and testing booster shots to protect against the South African variant and it’s hoped that by the summer these new vaccines will be authorised for use. An updated version of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be available for the autumn. Nadhim Zahawi, the minister leading the UK’s vaccine rollout said that vaccinated people would likely need to return to clinics for another jab in late 2021.

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 (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.

Lateral Flow Testing Kits now available to everyone – free of charge

Everyone is now able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing. Seen as a significant step forward, the test kits can be obtained you and your family members to use twice a week. Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families. Now testing is available to everyone, we are encouraged to take regular tests to help prevent outbreaks and reclaim a more normal way of life. One in three people with Covid do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. Since rapid testing was introduced, over 120,000 positive cases that would not have been found otherwise have been identified. By making rapid tests available to everyone, more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and saving lives.

International Dawn Chorus Day

This year’s International Dawn Chorus Day is on Sunday, 2 May. This is the perfect opportunity for nature lovers to gather at dawn to listen to the sounds of birds as they sing to greet the rising sun .Already many migrant birds have arrived back on our shores and in our gardens, hedgerows and woodlands and the early morning air is already filling up with a glorious chorus of cheeps, peeps and trills. Many birds are also singing right through the day, and if you’re out for a walk, you may have heard a few new notes mixed in with the familiar blackbirds and song thrushes. The first swallow of the year was seen in Essex on 30 March. That’s quite early, but due to climate change, apparently swallows are now arriving around 15 days earlier than they did in the 1950s.

Bird feeders are back!

Bird lovers and especially those who walk across up Winn Lane and across the A168 bridge, will be pleased to hear that the bird feeders have been replaced following the wanton destruction of previous feeders by some local idiots. Malc and Karen Morley have fixed those that could be salvaged and purchased a few new ones. They even report that someone who wished to remain anonymous has put a fiver through their letterbox to help meet the cost of replacements. Well done, whoever you are.

Textile recycling event in Topcliffe

This is the last call for donations to the Bags2School recycling event being held next Friday 23 April outside the Village Hall in Topcliffe. 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 them to the Village Hall between 8.30am and 12 noon. The proceeds of the event will be shared between the Village Hall and 1st Topcliffe Scout Group.

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.

There’s still time to submit views on the proposed Dalton development

There’s a growing concern among residents of Topcliffe and Asenby about the impacts that planned major commercial development on the Dalton Industrial Estate is likely to have on our communities. So far over 20 individuals, as well as the two parish councils, have submitted comments to Hambleton District Council, which will decide on the proposed plans.

Last week it was reported that the District Council has extended the consultation period giving more villagers an opportunity to have their say. And having your say is extremely important. It’s no good complaining in the future that traffic on our streets has increased and our children, elderly relatives and even our pets face danger from being knocked over and injured as they cross the roads, if we don’t shout out loud to protect our villages now. The authorities have suggested that they need to see evidence that a sufficient number of residents are concerned, so it is extremely important that as many of us as possible express a view.

It’s likely that most people will be in favour of any acceptable development that creates new jobs and gives a boost to the local economy. But developments must only proceed if every action possible is taken to protect our villages from increased traffic and nuisance. There’s already a high level of traffic, including too many HGVs , travelling through Topcliffe and past Asenby. New developments inevitably bring more cars and many more commercial vehicles so, if development plans are approved, they must be accompanied by enforceable safeguards. The developer estimates that the proposed Dalton site will attract 1,000 new jobs. They suggest that most employees will drive to work and that 35% of car journeys to and from the new site will be through Topcliffe village. That forecast means that 700 more car journeys a day will be made through Topcliffe, at all hours of the day and night. That’s the equivalent of an extra car coming through the village every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. But in reality they will come in ‘rush periods’ when shift changes happen, making our roads much more treacherous than they already are.

That’s hardly the sort of environment we want locally. So it’s up to us to make our voices heard. Our parish councils are pressing for better schemes from the developer and the planners which will minimise the cars and mitigate the potential damage to our communities. They are asking for better public transport, car share and cycle schemes, much improved signposting and planning conditions to restrict and enforce local traffic only schemes in Topcliffe. If you object to more HGVs, cars, noise and smells polluting our villages please take action now in support of your parish councils. The sooner people respond the better chance we have of influencing the developer to change the plans to reflect our concerns.

You can add your views to the planning application at: This link will take you straight to the planning 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.

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

It has been decided that the Village Hall will reopen 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.

St Columba’s services

The commemoration service held on Friday evening went very well with the church almost as full as restrictions would allow. The congregation heard a truly wonderful sermon on the life and times of Prince Philip from Canon Punshon.

Services planned are:

• Sunday, 18 April, 10.45am – Sung Matins

• Sunday, 25 April, 10.45am – Holy Communion – This will be the Reverend Terry Dyer’s last service at St Columba’s as he looks to reduce his Sunday commitments. The PCC offers its heartfelt thanks for all

the support he has given St Columba’s over the past year whilst the parish has been without its own vicar.

• Sunday, 2 May, 6.30pm – Choral Evensong

• Sunday, 9 May, 10.45am – Holy Communion (Communion will be led from this service onwards by a variety of visiting priests).

• Sunday, 16 May, 10.45am – Sung Matins

• Sunday, 23 May, 10.45am – Holy Communion

• Sunday 30 May – No Service

The PCC continually assesses the Covid risks and it operates a ‘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.

Plans for St Columba’s Heritage Weekend on 12 and 13 June are still to be confirmed.

Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM)

On Monday 19 May at 7.30pm the Annual Parochial Church Meeting will be held in St Columba’s church. There’ll be reports on the past year and election of Church Warden(s). It is open to all on the local church or civil electoral rolls, so please feel free to pop along. There is also a Parochial Church Council meeting at 6pm immediately preceding the APCM which should not delay the start of the latter, but apologies in advance should it run longer than expected.

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.

Studio 18 Hairstylist – unisex hairdressing salon run by Nicola James from a well- equipped unit at the rear of 18 Long Street (opposite the surgery) opens Monday to Saturday. 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 Elm Gallery – the gallery has been open every day for the past week and Liz and Dave have really enjoyed seeing both new and old customers. The gallery is now going back to its normal opening times: Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm; Sunday, 12noon to 5.30pm; Monday and Tuesday – closed.

Two people or two households are allowed in the gallery at the same time, keeping a safe distance from each other. If the gallery already has two lots of people in, a sign at the door will ask newly arriving customers to wait until someone exits. Call 01845 577316 or 07709 223920 or check out the website at:

The Milk Churn Farm Shop – OpenMonday, 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.

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 on 01845 400446. Thirsk Food Bank is now collecting food and there’s a box at the Farm Shop into which your donations can be


• The Swan – now open for drinks and food in an outdoor setting. There’s a reduced menu available and the take-away service is again on offer.

• John Aston Flooring Ltd – this new flooring centre based in Asenby has been operating for just one week from a unit at The Old Hatchery in Asenby. The unit has a large selection of carpets and

flooring to suit all tastes. Viewing is by appointment only. 01845 421111 – info

• The Angel at Topcliffe – The Angel’s garden is now taking bookings for outdoor dining and drinking. Tables are available for up to six people and there are marquees over each table to protect customers from inclement weather. 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 (phones are only monitored Wednesday to Saturday 3.30-8pm and 11am-6pm on Sundays). Check out the details at or follow The Angel on Facebook to get regular updates.

Bin Collections

Hambleton (Topcliffe):

• Recycling & green waste – Thursday 22 April.

• Refuse – Monday 26 April.

Harrogate (Asenby):

• Refuse – Monday 19 April.

• Garden waste – Thursday 22 April.

• Recycling – Monday 26 April.

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