Welcome to the 55th 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.
The week’s Covid statistics
• The R number – which takes into account cases, hospitalisations and deaths – in England was between 0.8 and 1.0 last week.
• 33.5 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. And the number of second doses is over 12 million.
• There have been more than 4.4 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. The daily average number of new cases last week was 2,061.
• Over 7 million Covid tests were conducted last week.
• 132 people were admitted to hospital with Covid yesterday (1,113 in the week). Hospital admissions continue to fall week on week.
• There were 32 deaths reported in the UK yesterday. There were 159 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 127,400. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been over 151,000 deaths
registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.
• Worldwide, the global death toll from Covid is almost 3.1 million people.
The Roadmap out of Lockdown
These are the current rules:
• We can 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.
• Indoor leisure, including gyms and spas, can now open for use individually or within household groups.
• Children are allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them.
• All retail shops, as well as hairdressers, beauty salons and other ‘close contact services’ are now allowed to open.
• Restaurants and pub gardens are allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) remains.
• 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.
• 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.
• We should maintain social distance, exercise hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required.
The next key set of relaxations to the restrictions will take place on 17 May. There’ll be more on the details nearer the date.
Covid no longer leading cause of death in England
Covid was not the leading cause of death in England last month for the first time since October. Office for National Statistics data shows Covid was the third leading cause of death that month, accounting for 9.2% of all fatalities registered in England. The leading cause of death in March was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 10.1% of all deaths registered that month.
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 between 8am and 11:30am. The nearest permanent testing sites are:
• Harrogate – Dragon Road Car Park, Dragon Road, Harrogate, HG1 5DB (This 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 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/ Use North Yorkshire County Council’s 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.
Lateral Flow Testing Kits
These tests are available to everyone – free of charge. Seen as a significant step forward, the test kits can be obtained by you and your family members to use twice a week. 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. You can order here:
The Swiss Cheese Covid model
If you want to understand why simply getting your two jabs is simply not enough to stop Covid spreading take a look at this interesting presentation based on a Swiss cheese. It has been produced by the BBC’s Visual Journalism Team and it gives an easy to understand explanation as to why jabs alone will not be enough to prevent the spread of Covid and that other measures are still needed.
Driving Tests restart
Learner drivers will be pleased that driving tests resumed last Thursday – but getting a date for the test is likely to be an ongoing problem. Apparently there have been considerable difficulties in securing a test date in most parts of the country. Tests were suspended in January due to Covid restrictions. Most centres are currently booked up until August, with a backlog of around 420,000 tests because of the pandemic. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said it was doing "all we can to provide as many tests as possible to help clear the backlog as quickly as we can". It added that it is offering an additional 2,500 car tests per month by using weekends and bank holidays. It’s also recruiting extra driving examiners across the country to deliver more tests to meet the demand.
Driving your own car in Europe
Now that we are getting closer to the day when we can go on holiday abroad, if you plan to take your own car into post-Brexit Europe there are things to start planning. You’ll need a valid driving licence, adequate insurance, a green card and a GB sticker. You might also need an international driving permit to drive in some EU countries and Norway. It’s always best to check the websites of the countries you plan to visit.
- Driving licence: You need to take your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence with you to drive abroad.
- Insurance: All UK vehicle insurance policies provide the minimum third-party cover to drive in the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. Check with your insurer to see if your policy has extra cover for things like theft or damage to your car abroad. You may also need additional insurance for your vehicle, trailer or caravan. Check the travel advice for the country or countries you are going to.
- Green Card: If you’re driving in most European countries you will need to carry a physical copy of a ‘green card’ to drive your vehicle. You can get a green card from your insurer. A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. Contact your insurer to get one for your vehicle. They’ll either post you one (allow up to 6 weeks) or tell you how to download a green card to print yourself. You will need to carry extra green cards if you’re towing a trailer or caravan (one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer or caravan), you have two insurance policies covering your trip (one card for each policy) or if you have multi-car or fleet insurance (one for each vehicle on the policy). You must present your green card if you’re involved in an accident and you could be asked to produce one at the border when moving between countries or if you’re stopped by the police.
- GB Sticker: If your number plate includes the GB identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack), you do not need a GB sticker. But you will need to display a GB sticker clearly on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has a Euro symbol, a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales or numbers and letters only. If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a GB sticker no matter what is on your number plate.
- International Driving Permit: You do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK. However, you might need an IDP to drive in some countries. Check here: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit You can get IDPs over the counter at the Post Office for £5.50. You might need one for each country you’re visiting.
Thirsk Food Bank launches Topcliffe collection point
The Milk Churn Farm Shop is thrilled to be able to announce it is now a collection point for Thirsk Food Bank. Working in conjunction with Thirsk Rotary and Thirsk Community Works, the farm shop is now accepting donations of foodstuffs including tins, pasta, rice, biscuits, cereals, jars, crisps, juices, bottled products, soups, crisp breads, anything in packets. But please, no fresh products as there’s a risk they will go to waste.
International Dawn Chorus Day
Don’t forget that next Sunday (2 May) is International Dawn Chorus Day. The idea is that you go out into your garden, local fields or hedgerows at dawn to listen to the sounds of birds as they sing to greet the rising sun.
A massive thank you to everyone who donated to the Bags2School event last Friday at the Village Hall. Through your efforts 510kg of clothes and other items were recycled, raising £153 to be shared between the Village Hall and 1st Topcliffe Scout Group.
Warning for Owners of Motor Homes and Camper Vans
Police are warning motor home and campervan owners in North Yorkshire to take extra precautions after numerous reports of suspicious activity. Over the last few weeks reports have been received of ‘cold callers’ visiting homes where a motor home is parked on the drive and asking if the vehicle is for sale. The police are concerned that this activity could be linked to criminality and are urging owners to be vigilant and check the security of their vehicles. Owners are advised to double-check their security measures and watch out for suspicious people in their neighbourhood.
Some good advice:
• Use a permanent marker pen to write your vehicle identification number (VIN) in several hidden places within the camper van (eg the underside of drawers, in cupboards, and on wooden surfaces. Etch the VIN onto the windows using a diamond tipped engraver. This makes the vehicle easy to identify if it’s stolen.
• Always lock all doors and windows every time you leave your motor home or campervan. Check and lock your roof light and gas compartment as well.
• Don’t leave personal or valuable items on display inside the vehicle. Consider forensic and security marking for your personal items. In particular never leave vehicle registration documents inside the vehicle – they can help a thief to sell it on.
• Fix lock nuts or wheel clamps to the wheels. Block in your motor home or campervan behind a locked gate, or with another vehicle parked in front of it.
• Fit a tracking device and an alarm and switch this on every time you leave your vehicle – even if it’s just for a short time. Keep your keys with you at all times.
Call police on 101 to report suspicious people appearing to take an interest in motor homes, campervans or other high-value vehicles. If a crime is in progress, dial 999.
Deer Shed 2021 cancelled
There’s bad news this week for those in our two villages who have always enjoyed the popular Deer Shed Festival at Baldersby Park. The organisers have announced that they are having to postpone the festival until 2022 because they have been unable to obtain Covid cancellation insurance. But there’s also some good news! Subject to the Covid relaxations continuing as planned, there’s a back-up plan for summer 2021 as a smaller event, Base Camp Plus, will be staged. It will be along the lines as last year’s hugely successful Base Camp, but with extra bits. The idea is to create a safe camping weekend, with plenty of space, loads of camping extras including your own loo, parking next to your own pitch, bookings so that you can be close to your families and mates’ pitches. There’ll be live music and comedy performances, food, drink, partying, campfires, workshops, theatre, well-being, swingballs and anything else the organisers dream up. Find out more on the Deer Shed website at www.deershedfestival.com/dsf11postponement/
Lots of Topcliffe and Asenby are sufficiently concerned about the planned industrial development at Dalton that they have lodged their comments on Hambleton Council’s planning website. So far thirty individuals and the two parish councils have registered their views. That’s a fairly good number, but the villages could be even more influential if more residents added their views. 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…and that’s fine! But local campaigners are arguing for protection for our villages against increased traffic and nuisance. There are already too many HGVs travelling through Topcliffe and past Asenby and many, if not most, of these are breaking the weight restriction law. The developer says 1,000 jobs will be created. That’s 1,000 workers who will mostly drive cars and it’s likely many of these will drive through our villages each day.
Our parish councils are pressing the developer and the council for better traffic management schemes that will mitigate the damage from existing and potential traffic through to our communities. They are asking for better public transport, car share and cycle schemes, much improved sign posting and planning conditions to restrict (and enforce) routes that HGVs can take.
In early May, parish councillors have secured a meeting with the developers and then afterwards with Hambleton District Council planners to look at the responses to consultation and how to the issues raised should be addressed. So clearly to have maximum impact on what happens to the plans and to our villages there is a ‘time’ imperative to express views as soon as possible. You can add your views to the planning application at: https://planning.hambleton.gov.uk/online-applications/caseDetails.do?caseType=Application&keyVal=QO7ZETHUHHI00 Insert the reference number 21/00331/HYB in the search box. You might want to use the key points listed in the “Make sure your voice is heard” attachment to construct your comment.
Parish Council meetings
• Topcliffe Parish Council – the AGM will be held online on Thursday, 6 May 2021. Check out the website at www.topcliffe.org.uk
• Asenby Parish Council – the Annual Meeting will be held at 7.30pm on 19 May 2021 in the Village Hall. Covid safety arrangements will be in place. For more information go to www.asenby.net
The Police and Crime Commissioner election will take place next Thursday, 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 Reopens…soon
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. The Committee has been in touch with all existing hirers to check their plans for restarting their activities and to advise them about the Covid safety arrangements that will be in place when activities recommence.
St Columba’s Church
The annual meeting of the Parochial Church Council held last Monday passed uneventfully with the PCC being re-elected for another year. Chris Hewlett was also re-elected as Church Warden, with thanks being expressed for all he has done to keep the church safely open for worship as much as possible during the pandemic. Roz Norris was re-elected as Secretary and Liz Green as Treasurer, with thanks also offered for all that they do in those roles.
Services planned are:
• Today, Sunday 25 April, 10.45am – Holy Communion – This will be Reverend Terry Dyer’s last service at St Columba’s.
• 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 – As is usual, there will be no service on the fifth Sunday of the month.
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.
• 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 at 18 Long Street (opposite the surgery). Open Monday to Saturday. Male and female adults as well as children. 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 is now 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: www.the-elm-gallery.co.uk
• The Milk Churn Farm Shop – Open 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. 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. https://www.milkchurnfarmshop.co.uk/ Thirsk Food Bank is collecting food at the Farm Shop and there’s a box into which your donations can be placed.
• 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 is operating 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 www.theangelattopcliffe.co.uk or follow The Angel on Facebook to get regular updates.
• Refuse – Mondays 26 April and 10 and 24 May.
• Recycling & green waste – Friday 7 (one day later than usual) and Thursday 20 May
• Recycling – Mondays 26 April and 10 and 24 May
• Refuse – Tuesday 4 May (one day later than usual) and Monday 17 May
• Garden waste – Friday 7 May (one day later than normal) and Thursday 20 May
That’s all for this week. Keep safe and remain well.