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Sunday Email: Issue 58

Welcome to the 58th 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

• 36.3 million people have now had a first dose vaccination. The number of second doses is 19.7 million. 69% of the adult population has now had the first jab and over 37% the second.

• There have been 4.5 million confirmed cases of Covid in the UK. The daily average number of new cases last week was 2,027. Over 6.3 million Covid tests were conducted last week.

• An average of 103 people were admitted to hospital with Covid last week. This was a slight increase on the previous week.

• There were 7 deaths reported in the UK yesterday. There were 72 in the seven-day period to Saturday. There are nearly 1,000 people in hospital with Covid.,

• The total number of UK deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test now stands at over 127,675. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been over 152,000 deaths

registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate. Worldwide, the global death toll from Covid is almost 3.3 million.

The Roadmap out of Lockdown

As of tomorrow, Monday 17 May, the following further relaxations include:

• People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors.

• Six people or two households can meet indoors.

• Domestic overnight stays allowed with people not in your household or bubble.

• Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors.

• Up to 30 people can attend weddings and more than 30 can attend funerals

• Outdoor entertainment still subject to restrictions, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas, can now open.

• Indoor entertainment including museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas can open.

• Performances and large events can restart, but with limits on audience numbers.

• Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen.

• International leisure travel can resume (see item below).

• Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart.

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

• Advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging, will be updated (but may not come into effect at this point).

But the roadmap faces a challenge

After months of good news, including falling Covid cases and a hugely successful vaccination campaign, the tone has shifted. The spread and prevalence of the Indian strain of the virus is an increasing problem and it’s threatening to disrupt the roadmap governing the lifting of restrictions. Government scientific advisers are concerned about the rise in cases of the Indian variant and are closely monitoring the situation in parts of England, particularly the North West. Easing restrictions on Monday and a more transmissible variant means the virus will move even faster. One top scientist warned lifting restrictions on 21 June is now in doubt. Continuing relaxation of restrictions relies on four factors, one of which is infection rates must be under control before any further restrictions will be lifted. We seem to be getting everything promised for 17 May, but the relaxation of all measures on 21 June will depend on whether infections don’t increase too much, the health service is not put under pressure and how well the vaccine programme continues to rollout.

Why the Indian variant could create a problem?

There are a few Indian variants, but one appears to be spreading more quickly than the other two in the UK. It is now being seen in lots of places, with few cases linked to travel, and some scientists think numbers have been grossly underestimated. Surge testing is being used to identify these infections, but it may not be stopping the spread. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was anxious about the variant and has not ruled out reintroducing regional restrictions. In parts of Lancashire, over-18s can now book a Covid jab after the Indian variant was found there and the army has been mobilised to help with Covid testing.

The Indian variant could be a problem despite the fact that the vaccination programme is doing so well. The issue is that we are only part way through the programme even though those most at risk have been prioritised. Another factor is uncertainty about how transmissible the new variant is. Modelling by the University of Warwick has estimated a 30%-40% more transmissible variant, combined with relaxing restrictions in May and June, could lead to more hospital admissions than in the first wave. The government, businesses and many members of the public would find that prospect very difficult to accept. We are in the delicate phase where restrictions are being eased as the vaccine is taking over the burden of suppressing the virus, so making the right decisions is going to be critically important.

One option being considered nationally is closing the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccination. This would give vulnerable people, who have already been offered their first jab, extra protection more quickly. However, there could be a trade-off as studies suggest the current 12-week gap between doses leads to a better immune response than the originally planned three-week gap. In areas most affected by the variant, the government is allowing local health authorities greater flexibility, including vaccinating younger people in multi-generational households.

Despite that, let’s hug!

The advice on hugging is changing from Monday, meaning close physical contact with people from other households is allowed. Experts say there are real benefits to hugging – it lowers stress and blood pressure – but the government is urging people to be cautious. So how can you give a cautious hug? Here’s how to hug safely.

  • Be selective – restrict hugging to family members and not beyond. You should take extra care with those vulnerable to Covid, and maybe choose not to hug elderly relatives – especially if either hugger is not vaccinated, don’t hug too many people one after the other.
  • Make it quick – longer periods of close contact increase the risk of transmission but remember that even brief contact can spread Covid.
  • Don’t hug face to face – turn your heads slightly away. Wear a mask if one of you is vulnerable.
  • Do it outside – the risks from Covid are lower outside.
  • Get tested – to make close contact safer, you should test yourself regularly – even if you don’t have symptoms. Test kits are free to order for anyone who wants one (see below).

Jabs save lives!

Coronavirus vaccines have saved 11,700 lives and stopped 33,000 people becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 in England, research suggests. The Public Health England analysis, up to the end of April, found people in their 70s and 80s had seen the biggest fall in deaths and hospital admissions.

Traffic lights are green for Portugal

In last week’s email the ’traffic light’ system was described and the 12 countries on the green list were listed. Of those, only Portugal could be described as a main European holiday destination. And until Friday there was even doubt that Brits could travel there, though the Portuguese government has now given the all-clear, despite objections from the EU. From Monday UK residents with a negative Covid test can travel there and this is despite the fact that Portugal extended its own domestic lockdown restrictions last week.

Just to remind you, the traffic light system is as follows:

• GREEN – people coming from green list countries will have to provide a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure and then pay for a PCR test on or before their second day back in the UK.

• AMBER – people returning from an amber country will have to quarantine at home for 10 days. They will have to take a pre-departure test and two PCR tests when back, on days two and eight.

• RED – people returning from red countries must quarantine for 10 days in government-approved hotels at their own expense, as well as the pre-departure test and the two tests once back.

As concerns increase about Covid variants, travellers are being reminded not to book trips which do not include a refund. Favourite summer destinations like France, Greece, Italy and Spain are still on the amber list for now. The vast majority of countries are on the red list. All lists will be reviewed every three weeks.

Covid Testing

A full list of NHS testing sites can be viewed at

Lateral Flow Testing Kits – these tests are available free of charge to everyone. Seen as a significant step forward, the test kits can be obtained 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:

Volunteers Required

The Community Works charity based in Thirsk is looking for volunteer van drivers to pick up furniture, they will be assisted by helpers who would do much of the lifting. Days required are Monday to Thursday, but volunteers can generally choose which day or time suits them best. If you can help out please contact Helen Ashworth Volunteer Co-Ordinator at Community Works on 01845 524494 or e-mail helen

Dalton development

There has been a significant response from residents to the plans for a major development at Dalton Industrial Estate. They have added their comments to the planning application on Hambleton District Council’s planning portal making it clear that any new developments must be accompanied by enforceable rules preventing HGVs and other traffic travelling through Topcliffe and Asenby. It has been an impressive community response to a new threat to our villages, but there’s still time for more villagers to add their views. It’s easy to access and add your comments, simply go to: insert the reference number 21/00331/HYB in the search box and follow the instructions. The more public comments added to the application, the more likely it is that planners and councillors will listen to the concerns of local people.

Parish Council meetings

• Asenby Parish Council’s Annual Meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 19 May 2021 in the main hall at the Village Hall. For more information go to

• The next meeting of Topcliffe Parish Council will be at 7pm on Thursday 3 June in the main hall at the Village Hall. Check out the website at topcliffeparishcouncil

Covid safety arrangements will be in place at the Village Hall for both meetings.

Topcliffe & Asenby Village Hall

The Village Hall will begin to reopenthis coming week. Initially, only those hirers that were using the hall at the time the pandemic started, will be able to restart their activities. Bookings for new activities and for events such as parties will be possible from 21 June. The Village Hall’s Annual General Meeting was held via Zoom last Wednesday (12 May). It was followed by an ordinary meeting of the Village Hall Committee. The Minutes of both meetings are available on the village website –

Committee members agreed that existing hirers will have free use of the hall until 31 December 2021. It was also agreed that free use of the hall would be available to new group activities (this does not include commercial one-off or private hires for parties and social functions). This is intended to encourage a new range of activities to get going after the fourteen months of closure due to the pandemic.

Confirmed bookings so far:

  • Asenby Parish Council – AGM – 7.30pm, Wednesday 19 May
  • Pammy’s Pilates – 6 to 7pm, starting Thursday 20 May and then every Thursday evening.
  • My Time Yoga – 12.30 to 4pm (two classes) – believed to be starting Monday 24 May and then every Monday afternoon.
  • Topcliffe Parish Council – 7pm, Thursday 3 June.

Looking further ahead, the popular soup and sweet lunches will start again on Wednesday 23 June and then fortnightly thereafter, and the annual Topcliffe & Asenby Produce Show will be held on Saturday 28 August. Events planned for last year that had to be postponed due to the pandemic will be rescheduled in due course. Watch out for details of the Big Race Night, Challenge Quiz and Attic Auction.

The Tattler – June edition

The summer edition of The Tattler is currently being prepared and it will be published and distributed around the 2 June.

Plant Sale

Karen and Malc Morley are holding a plant sale outside their home on Back Lane today starting 10am and lasting until everything has gone!. There’ll be tomatoes, cucumbers and a few bedding plants. Anyone who wants one or two can leave a donation and all money raised will go to support the Jennyruth Workshops in Ripon.

Who wants an end of term treasure hunt?

That’s the question being asked by Karen Hotham who likes to organise this type of event for local children and raise funds for FOTS (Friends of Topcliffe School) at the same time. Karen organised the extremely successful Easter Egg Trail and she is now putting out feelers to gauge the interest in a trail with a different theme – perhaps a treasure hunt and prizes for best dressed pirates – but any other ideas will be considered. The Milk Churn Farm Shop has again agreed to support any event organised. An extra idea being explored for the day is a table-top sale with stalls selling cakes, toys, books and bric-a-brac. There could also be raffles and games such as splat the rat and count the sweets in a jar. Before Karen takes these ideas further, please let her know that there’s support within the community. Contact her via her own or Top Residents Facebook pages or ring 07875 331277.

Call to action against Himalayan Balsam

There was an interesting post on the Top Residents Facebook page this week. Dr Sarah Barbour, who lives in Church Street said that since moving to Topcliffe last summer she had noticed that there’s a huge amount of Himalayan Balsam established on the banks of the Swale, along the footpath opposite the caravan park, in the little wood on Catton Lane and at the Sheepwash. For those that don’t know, this plant is an invasive species and, once established, it takes over to the exclusion of all other plant species (except it seems to be best friends with nettles!). So, while the flowers in late summer might look cheerful, this plant is actually a pernicious weed that causes huge problems to our native wildlife, including the water vole which is an endangered species. Sarah would like to appeal to Top Residents to help try to get it under control. I’m not unrealistic – total eradication is probably a lifetime’s work! But it can be slowed down to give the native plant- and animal-life a chance. Because it’s very shallow rooted it can be pulled up at the roots with no effort at all, which is actually very satisfying and quite addictive once you get going. This has to be done before the seed pods develop and pop in August/September. So, in fact, now is a really good time to get started, and before the nettles get so tall that you can’t get to the balsam. If everybody that regularly walks along our beautiful footpaths could spend just five minutes on every walk pulling up 10-20 plants, it would make an enormous difference. If anyone wants to get together for a balsam-pulling party let Sarah know – she’ll bring the cake! If we all pull together (pun most definitely intended) we can make a difference. Don’t forget your gloves and please, please don’t fall in the river trying to reach it! Sarah can be contacted on 07885 386557.

Horizon parking at Tesco

Here’s another interesting piece extracted from Top Residents Facebook page. Rob Roberts, who lives on Front Street, posted that on Friday he received a letter from parking contractors Horizon stating that he had parked longer than the agreed time at Tesco in Thirsk. He says he contested the claim and is now issuing a warning to all shoppers who use the store that if you get one of these letters it’s not a penalty charge notice and photographs they supply as evidence have no date and time on them. He believes Horizon are ‘chancing their hand’ to see who might pay up. So please be aware.

St Columba’s Church

Services planned are:

• Sunday, 16 May, 10.45am – Sung Matins

• Whit Sunday (Pentecost), 23 May, 10.45am – Holy Communion

• Trinity Sunday, 30 May – Service details yet to be announced.

The Elm Gallery

Things will remain as previously stated at the Elm Gallery. Opening times are: Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm; Sunday, 12noon to 5.30pm; Monday and Tuesday – closed. Covid safety arrangements are in place with two households/bubbles in the gallery at any one. Call 01845 577316 or 07709 223920 or check out the website at:

The Swan

The Swan will be back to normal hours from Monday and George, Jane and the team are looking forward to welcoming customers old and new for drinks, meals and good company.

The Milk Churn Farm Shop

The café will be opening on Monday 24 May, providing a selection of hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes, traybake and scones. Wheelchair access is available at the rear of the property. Customers are still required to keep to social distancing rules so the cafe is providing tables with just three chairs as the seating area is too small to have more. Masks must be worn unless you are sitting down to eat or drink. All customers will be asked to sanitise their hands on entering and leaving the shop/café. Takeaway teas and coffees with cake is still available. Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9-5pm. Thursday and Saturday 9-1pm. Check out our Facebook page for information about new lines in fresh and frozen foods. 01845 400446.

The Angel at Topcliffe

The Angel will be re-opening indoors tomorrow and back to normal hours, seven days a week. There’ll be a new menu, which will be uploaded to website Monday morning.

• Breakfast will be served 8-10am to non-residents every day from Tuesday.

• Monday to Friday, lunch will be served 12noon to 2.30pm and dinner 5 until 9pm.

• The restaurant will be open 12noon to 9pm on Saturdays and 12 noon to 8pm on Sundays. Please call to book your indoor table.

• The Angel team is very much looking forward to welcoming you for a drink in the bar Monday to Thursday, 12 noon to 11pm; Friday and Saturday 12 noon to midnight; Sunday 12 noon to 10.30pm.

• The tents and gazebos in the garden are being retained for a few more weeks, so those who are still reluctant to eat inside can still enjoy a meal.

• The Angel at Home service will continue until further notice Wednesday to Sunday (please try to book in advance and check the new menu before ordering).

• Comedy Night is planned to resume on 6 July, tickets will be available next week (£10 in advance, £12 on the day).

Finally, The Angel is looking for front of house staff to work evenings and weekends. Anyone interested please call Greg or Steve on 01845 578000 for more details.

Check out full details at or follow The Angel on Facebook to get regular updates.

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.

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 Thirsk Food Bank now has a collection point at the Milk Churn Farm Shop. The following foodstuffs are welcomed: 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.

John Aston Flooring Ltd – operating from The Old Hatchery in Asenby. There’s a large selection of carpets and flooring to suit all tastes. Appointment only. 01845 421111 – info

Bin Collections

Hambleton (Topcliffe):

• Recycling & green waste – Thursday 20 May and Friday 4 June (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday)

• Refuse – Monday 24 May and 7 June

Harrogate (Asenby):

• Refuse – Monday 17 and Tuesday 1 June (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday) and Mondays 14 and 28 June

• Garden waste – Thursday 20 May and Friday 4 June (one day later than normal due to Bank Holiday)

• Recycling – Monday 24 May and 7 and 21 June

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