Monday 30th November 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

WTC Statue Unveiling: Non Essential Journeys #16

August 16, 2020 Whitby Town

WTC Statue Unveiling: Non Essential Journeys #16

by TIM HICKS

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Regular readers will be aware that I have recently run a series of articles on breaches of the Coronavirus lockdown regulations by prominent people, including Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain. In these articles, I have also been very supportive of the efforts of the vast majority of officers in North Yorkshire Police to set the appropriate example and to protect the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I had hoped that these articles would deter public figures from breaching the lockdown regulations. But to be safe, I also ran an appeal for information from our readers.

I was therefore disappointed, shocked and saddened to receive this photograph of dignitaries attending the unveiling of a statue in Whitby on Friday the 14th August 2020 in which social distancing rules were not followed and masks were not worn.

These are (left to right): Former SBC and WTC Councillor Sandra TURNER, Unknown, FISHERWIFE STATUE, Ms Emma STOTHARD (sculptress) and WTC Mayor Cllr Linda WILD.

Further, according to this article from Yorkshire Coast Radio, another seven of these social events are planned, in partnership with Scarborough Borough Council – which must cause additional concern.

I think it is a good statue and the idea of commemorating Whitby’s history with these statues is also a good idea.

However, attendance at a civic function like this during a pandemic would seem to me to be irresponsible. It is also contrary to the guidance issued by Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker of North Yorkshire Police,

It is also contrary to the government advice available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home which I accessed from the North Yorkshire Police website:

1. Keep your distance from people outside your household or support bubble 

Whilst recognising this will not always be possible, it is important to be aware that the risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus, and the amount of time you spend in close contact with them. Therefore, you are unlikely to be infected if you walk past another person in the street. 

The government recommends that you keep two metres away from people as a precaution or one metre when you can mitigate the risk by taking other precautions in this list. 

2. Avoid being face-to-face with people if they are outside your household or support bubble

You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets (released by talking or coughing) when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing someone. The key thing is not to be too close to people outside your household or support bubble. If you must, keep it as brief as possible.

It also seems to me to be contrary to the SBC advice from their website, which is referred to as the source for Coronavirus advice by the WTC Website:

You can help by staying alert. This means you must: 

    • Stay at home as much as possible.
    • Work from home if you can.
    • Limit contact with other people.
    • Keep your distance if you go out (at least one metre apart, more where possible).
    • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.

 And this link from the SBC website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household-from-4-july?utm_source=c821d5fe-0712-4c30-95b0-471a85071286&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

It remains the case, even inside someone’s home, that you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble.  

Staying alert when meeting people you do not live with 

In order to keep you and your family and friends safe, it remains very important that you stay alert when meeting family and friends. 

You should:

  • only socialise indoors with members of up to 2 households ‒ this includes when dining out or going to the pub
  • socialise outdoors in a group of up to 6 people from different households or up to 2 households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household)
  • not hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction – even if they are organised by businesses and venues that are taking steps to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines
  • limit social interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship
  • try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time, to keep you and them safe, and save lives. The more people with whom you interact, the more chances we give the virus to spread

You can also minimise the risk of spreading infection by following some key principles. You should:

  • continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines when you are with anyone not in your household or your support “bubble”.

 As influential public figures and community leaders, Councillors have a duty to set an appropriate example. In my opinion, they should not have undertaken a non-essential journey to a public civic function with people from outside their households at which they ignored social distancing, did not wear face masks, then posed for photographs showing them ignoring the above advice.

Quite apart from the fact that unnecessary civic social events endanger lives. The actions of these Councillors has undermined the efforts of every one in North Yorkshire Police and the NHS, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have written to Inspector Graeme Kynman who commands policing in Scarborough, asking that he investigates if an offence has been committed. I have also asked him to write to Whitby Town Council to ask that it prohibits attendance at any more civic social events until after the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is within the NYE’s duty as a local media outlet holding public bodies and Councillors to account, and supporting the efforts of the police to keep communities safe.

The NYE will continue to monitor this story and I will report back in due course.

NYE appeal for information 

If you see breaches of the Coronavirus lockdown regulations by police officers or prominent public figures, please let me know using the letters@nyenquirer.uk email address.

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