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Hinterland - 8 June 2020

This week in Hinterland: a number of tourism related stories, some economic impacts and deeper reflections on the differential impacts of the pandemic on places and people.

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Rural Yorkshire's residents subjected to 'misery' due to influx of motorbikes, says crime commissioner

Here is another spin on unwelcome “townies” in a rural setting. This is a thoughtful article showing that we need to remember there are two sides to situations like this. We do need to soon start welcoming visitors back to rural settings if we are going to have any tourism jobs left for the longer term. This story tells us:

As residents of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks and surrounding areas braced themselves for a continuation of what some claim has been record numbers of motorbikes visiting the county in recent weekends, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said residents were being subjected to “alarming and unfair behaviour”.

Her comments follow calls from members of a Yorkshire Dales National Park advisory body to launch vehicle-free days to recapture the tranquillity of the strictest lockdown period and chairman of the North York Moors National Park Authority Jim Bailey stating the area was not the place for “noise for the sake of making noise”.

Mr Bailey said while those living in the park area needed to be accommodating as it was unclear how visitors may have been affected by the pandemic, there was “a need to be more tolerant, and that goes both ways”.

Meanwhile, residents and visitors to the national parks have made scores of complaints this week about motorcyclists using machines with noisy illegal exhausts.

Heather Walker, who lives near Grassington, said she had been suffering “ear blasting” noise from motorbikes from 5am on a weekend morning until dark.

Covid-19 furlough scheme wind-down 'too soon' for rural sector

It is clear from most data that rural economies have borne the brunt of the coronavirus. This article provides us with very interesting food for thought in that context. It tells us:

The phasing out of the Covid-19 job retention scheme could be 'too soon' for the rural sector as many firms in the countryside are still in 'survival mode', it has been warned.

Last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveiled details of a gradual winding down of the furlough scheme to its conclusion at the end of October. 

These changes will see the introduction of a flexible furlough and employer contributions to wage costs.

Rishi Sunak also announced the second and final tranche of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), with a second grant in August worth 70% of average trading profits over a further 3 months and capped at £6,750.

From 1 July, a month earlier than previously announced, businesses will be able to bring back furloughed workers on a part-time basis.

Employers will be able to decide when and what hours their employees work, but they will be responsible for paying their wages for the time they are working.

NHS test-and-trace system 'not fully operational until September'

The Rural Coalition has written to Matt Hancock making the point that rural places might merit a differential approach to lifting lockdown and in some case and some aspects of the recovery planning could go first. All interesting grist to the mill in terms of this article, which suggests one of the most important enablers to a place based approach, the test and trace system is some way off full implementation. This story tells us:

The NHS coronavirus test-and-trace system designed to prevent a second deadly wave is not expected to work at full speed until September or October, the Guardian has learned.

Tony Prestedge, the chief operating officer of the NHS scheme, admitted in a webinar to staff that the programme would be “imperfect” at launch, adding that he hoped it would be operational at a world-class level within three to four months.

It comes as a leaked email from the chief executive of Serco – one of the main companies contracted to deliver the service – revealed how he doubted the scheme would evolve smoothly but said he wanted it to “cement the position of the private sector” in the NHS supply chain. 

The disclosures come as scientists said lockdown measures should not be eased until the test-and-trace service is well established. The system, which tracks those who have contracted coronavirus and anyone they have been in contact with, before asking them to self-isolate, was rolled out across England last week with the help of 25,000 contact tracers.

Justin Madders, a shadow health minister, said the idea that the system may be months away from being fully operational was “deeply concerning”.

Health experts cast doubt on UK hopes for holiday 'air bridges'

I have mixed views about this, story, but one thing I do hope is that more people might choose to holiday in the UK,  giving our rural tourism sector a much needed shot in the arm. This article tells us:

Public health experts and officials have warned that the idea of “air bridge” links between the UK and overseas holiday destinations may prove impossible this summer, amid continued concern over how they could operate safely.

A number of Conservative MPs are pushing for air bridges – mutual agreements with other countries to allow travellers to fly in and out without coronavirus quarantine restrictions – ahead of the imposition of the UK’s 14-day quarantine system next week.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, is to announce how the quarantine process will work in a statement to the Commons on Wednesday, and is coming under significant pressure from Tory MPs to signal a willingness to implement air bridges amid fears over the new measures’ effect on the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Writing in Wednesday’s Telegraph alongside the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, Patel said: “We owe it to the victims of Covid-19 to impose quarantine,” arguing it was crucial and tourism would be up and running faster if tough measures were taken.

But progress has so far been slow. When the government announced the quarantine plans on 22 May, air bridges were mentioned among “further options” to be explored. There have been no updates since.

Key findings from Public Health England's report on Covid-19 deaths

As we get deeper into this pandemic worrying patterns are starting to emerge. This article is interesting in its own right, but it also makes me reflect on whether there are some differential impacts affecting rural dwellers. This story tells us:

The inquiry into disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19 commissioned by the Department of Health identifies major inequalities, confirming that – contrary to the popular refrain – we are not all in this together.

Mortality risk from Covid-19 is higher among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people

The Public Health England (PHE) review confirms that the risk of dying among those diagnosed with Covid-19 is higher in those in BAME groups than in white ethnic groups.

After accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, it found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity were at most risk, with around twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British. The risk of mortality for people of Bangladeshi ethnicity was in line with other research, by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), but for other ethnicities it was generally lower.

In previous years, all-cause mortality rates were lower in Asian and black ethnic groups than in white ethnic groups, PHE said, meaning that mortality risk for Covid-19 was a reversal of what had been seen in the past.

Diagnosis of Covid-19 among BAME people is also greater

When adjusted for age the highest diagnosis rates (which does not necessarily correlate with incidence) of Covid-19 were in people of Black ethnic groups (486 in females and 649 in males) and the lowest were in people of white ethnic groups (220 in females and 224 in males).

And Finally

This way for Bums and Tums! The discreet charm of the village hall

Marvellous article on the sadly mothballed, but iconic village hall and one of the places in our village I am most looking forward to revisiting once lockdown is lifted. This cracking article tells us:

A row of karate kids are performing mawashi geri kicks in unison to the cries of their teacher. Coincidentally, in the room next door, the Brownies are learning first aid. The next morning, a gaggle of pensioners arrive and are soon waltzing to wartime classics. Then, by the afternoon, a jumble sale is in full swing. One week later, dozens of people are queuing up to vote, hot on the heels of a neighbourhood forum discussing a contentious planning application.

These are just a few moments in the life of a humble village hall. More than any other building type, the village hall represents the ultimate multifunctional democratic space. It is a forum for raffles, cake sales, birthday parties, fitness classes, political meetings and more – a witness, as Jethro Marshall puts it, “to great human events – mostly for around £8 per hour”.

Marshall, a Dorset-based art director and photographer, has surveyed a range of village halls across the West Country for his latest book, Halls & Oats, a celebration of what he calls “utilitarian bucolic construction”. In the midst of the pandemic, his carefully framed black and white images, devoid of human life, take on a new level of pathos. The children’s parties have stopped, the Bums and Tums classes are postponed, Knit and Natter has been put on hold. Absent of the life that sustains them, village halls have become empty shells of promise, haunting symbols of a time when we could congregate – but also hopeful reminders that we might one day do so again.

About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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