Coronavirus News

Thursday 31 December

Local coronavirus cases increase more than ten fold in under three weeks

A DRAMATIC surge in coronavirus cases in the run up to Christmas  in Penn, Tylers Green and Hazlemere is shown in the latest figures.

In the Penn area, which includes Holmer Green and Knotty Green, there were two new cases in the week ending 5 December. In the week up to Christmas Eve the number of new cases was 32.

In Tylers Green there were three new cases in the week ending 5 December. In the week up to Christmas Eve it was 27.

In Hazlemere there were four new cases  in the week up to 5 December.  In the week up to Christmas Eve it was 46.

In the seven days to last night 18 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days died in the Wycombe/Chiltern/South Bucks area, an increase of seven on the previous week.

Covid officially declared a ‘major incident’ in Buckinghamshire

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE was declared a “major incident” zone yesterday as health and council officials warned that the number of Covid cases could overwhelm local health and social care services. 

Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, warned that infections are going to get worse. He said the current number of Covid cases in the county was 514 per 100,000 population: projections suggest this will increase to 800 per 100,000 next week. 

Mr Tett said: “Our greatest concern is that the increase (of new cases) is being seen in our older age groups. Our rate in the over 60s population has gone up by over 60 per cent and this is now putting our health services under very severe pressure, not helped by staff shortages through increasing numbers of positive cases and self-isolation amongst staff.”

Wycombe, Amersham and Stoke Mandeville hospitals  are postponing non-urgent operations and clearing the decks for an influx of more Covid patients. The trust that runs Wexham Park Hospital in neighbouring  Slough said its number of Covid patients had more than doubled in two weeks. Sky News reported last night that London hospitals whose intensive care units are full are transporting patients to neighbouring areas.

Government, health and police officials are pleading with people to obey the restrictions and not mix with others outside their household for New Year’s Eve commemorations tonight. People feeling unwell are being urged to use the NHS 111 service as much as possible. 

Safety pledge as primary schools set to return

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE remained in the tier 4 restrictions zone when the areas were reviewed yesterday as secondary schools in the area learned they will not return from the Christmas holiday as originally intended next week. The plan is that years 11 and 13 will return on 11 January and the other students a week later.

Tylers Green First and Middle School and Manor Farm Junior and Infant School will open as planned on Tuesday. Teachers will be attending on Monday to work out arrangements for the coming term. 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson assured Aylesbury MP Rob Butler in the House of Commons yesterday that the decision to allow primary schools to return in the county was safe. He said: “At every stage the safety of pupils and those who work in schools is at the very heart of every decision we make. It is always important to balance the need to get children in (school) while ensuring they are in a safe environment.”

Vaccine programme accelerated 

THE approval of the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday, together with the already available Pfizer one, means the NHS is able to accelerate the vaccine programme. Buckinghamshire Council said yesterday more local sites where the vaccinations will take place will “come on stream in the next few weeks.”  Patients will be contacted directly by the NHS.  Please do not ring the local GP surgeries.

MP’s plea to Remainers

PENN’S MP Dame Cheryl Gillan managed to be called to speak in yesterday’s historic debate in the House of Commons when Parliament agreed to last week’s agreement enabling the UK to leave the European Union with a trade agreement from eleven o’clock tonight.

A long time Brexit supporter she concluded: “To those who continue to wage a war of attrition against this reborn independence and look backwards towards membership of the EU, I hope they, too, will now move on and develop the guts and determination of our prime minister to back our own Union and contribute positively to its future success.

“I believe that the UK’s future is bright, working alongside Europe, but finally, after today, not subjugated by it.  It is with great pleasure that I support this Bill.”

One of the most fervent Brexiteers, the Wycombe (and Tylers Green) MP Steve Baker wanted to speak in the debate but  time restrictions mean he was unable to do so. He had earlier tweeted his feelings, saying:”I love it when a plan comes together.”

Penn minister in hate speech/free speech storm

PETER Simpson, the pastor of Penn Free Methodist Church, says he was approached by police while preaching in the street after a member of the public accused him of hate speech.

He says on the church’s website that he was preaching in central High Wycombe just before Christmas when police asked for his name and address saying a complaint had been made about his “inappropriate comments”.

The minister said that two weeks earlier two uniformed street wardens  had asked for his details at a previous outdoor preaching session  saying a member of the public accused him of expressing “hate crime sentiments.”

Mr Simpson, an outspoken critic of gay rights, said he was “temperately and reasonably” quoting the Bible (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) which talks of “sexually immoral….or homosexual offenders… will not inherit the kingdom of God.” He condemns a current Government consultation which he says  will make “life even more difficult and downright dangerous for Christian preachers by seeking to modify the existing hate crime legislation.”

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said no arrests had been made and Buckinghamshire Council, who are responsible for street wardens, have yet to respond. 

Local news

Joe’s exceptional Christmas – Village butcher Joe Gleeson has told the Bucks Free Press that in 35 years of trading he has never experienced such a busy Christmas. Some customers queued for over two hours for their Christmas orders forming a long line from the Hazlemere Road shop down West Avenue.

Warnings eased – The Environment Agency is expected to lift its flood warning today along most of the Thames from Henley to Windsor. 


Sometimes I feel I should apologise for putting before you an unremitting amount of gloomy news this year. I know a lot of my former colleagues still in front-line journalism take no pleasure at all in filling their news bulletins and newspapers with bad news day after day.

Yet there has been much goodness to report. The professionalism and cheerfulness of our public, health and care workers has been simply inspiring. The determination of our teachers, school workers and social workers to ensure things can be as normal as possible for their charges has been magnificent. The dedication and, yes, bravery, of our emergency service personnel  has been exemplary.

Of course you always get selfish idiots in a crisis. Those who buy up all the toilet rolls, jump the queues, ignore the safety rules and the consideration of others. But they are very much a minority. The human characteristics Tina and I  found more than any other this year have been kindness, helpfulness and support…characteristics that we know have helped many of those grieving for lost loved ones . As the Queen said in her Christmas message “a year that has necessarily kept people apart has, in many ways, brought us closer.”

Now we have real reason for hope and a pathway, via vaccines, out of all this. A real chance that our Penn and Tylers Green community can resume some sort of normality in the none too distant future. Here’s to a happier 2021 for all of us.

This blog will be updated regularly in the coming weeks. Contact if you would like anything included.