A PERMANENT Covid-19 local testing station is scheduled to open in Skipton this coming Saturday, December 12, despite concerns from the mother of a disabled resident who lives adjacent to the site.

The station is to be operated from Cavendish Street Car Park with building work due to start tomorrow (Wednesday), to support the ongoing expansion of Covid-19 testing.

The site will join those already operating in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough and Selby. These are in addition to the mobile testing units that are regularly deployed around the county.

North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum has worked with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to secure these locations for walk-in testing sites. The Skipton site will be operated on behalf of the DHSC by G4S.

However, Michelle Marshall, from Grassington, said there had been no consultation with her as parent of 33-year-old son Laim Adams, who has Down Syndrome and lives in a flat in the adjacent Victoria Building.

She said: “I am concerned that a risk assessment has not looked at all the possibilities. There are several people with disabilities in the flats who all have a right to live there.

“People using the station will be going there because they have Covid symptoms. Security guards there could pick up the virus and pass it on as they patrol. Liam has respiratory and heart problems and could be very ill or die if he catches coronavirus. He stayed with me during the first lockdown but wanted to remain at his home during the last one, which I feel is his right. People will be gathering and walking near his flat and he and others could be vulnerable. I think a better site for the station would have been the bottom of Coach Street Car Park, or perhaps somewhere on the outskirts of town.”

Dr Victoria Turner, Public Health Consultant, said: “We have discussed the issues with the resident directly to help us understand their concerns, and provided reassurance on measures that have been taken to keep members of the public safe. We will continue to work with partners to make sure any outstanding queries are addressed.

“Each potential location for a testing site is assessed for suitability and would not be allowed to proceed if there was considered to be a risk to the wider public in terms of its location.

“Although local test sites are targeted at people with symptoms, only a small proportion of these individuals (currently around five per cent) will go on to receive a positive test result.

“The key factors leading to transmission of infection are close contact with people who are infectious for prolonged periods in poorly ventilated settings. Members of the public will not be able to access the indoor part of the local test site if they are not attending specifically to be tested.

“All members of the public should continue to maintain social distancing with anyone who is not part of their household or bubble. Continuing to follow social distancing and hygiene measures will ensure that the risk of transmission in any outdoor community setting remains very low.”

The testing site in Cavendish Street car park will be located at the end furthest from the flats in question. There will be no pedestrian access to the car park, apart from to the testing site for people who are attending to have a test. For pedestrians, this will be via Gas Street. Coach Street car park was proposed as a first option for a testing site in Skipton, but was considered unsuitable by the DHSC because of its gradient.

Craven District Council has written to the car park permit holders advising them of the closure and requesting them to use Coach Street car park instead.

North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum has worked with the Department for Health and Social Care to secure these locations for walk-in testing sites. The Skipton site will be operated on behalf of DHSC by G4S.

Local testing sites offer testing from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Appointments must be booked in advance on the County Council’s website or by ringing 119.

Local testing sites take bookings from within a radius of 10 miles. Mobile testing units will continue to run alongside these with a range of 75 miles.

Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council and chair of North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “If you have Covid-19 symptoms, it is very important that you book a test. Testing is a vital element in the efforts we all need to make to reduce the infection rate as much as we can before Christmas.

“The opening of the Skipton site will further enhance North Yorkshire’s testing capabilities.

“The greater testing capacity enables us to exert more control over the spread of this virus and to make the best use of resources by releasing mobile testing units to the places that need them most.”

Councillor Richard Foster, Leader of Craven District Council, said: “It’s important that we play our part in providing better access to coronavirus testing, so that everyone with symptoms can get a test.

“The layout of the site will be carefully designed to ensure people can move around safely and prevent spread of the virus.

“A number of measures will be in place, including social distancing, personal protective equipment on site, a strict cleaning regime and designated areas for testing. All efforts are being made to reduce any disturbance or inconvenience to local residents and businesses, and signage will be put in place to direct any potential users of the car park to Coach Street Car Park.”

People are urged to self-isolate from the onset of Covid-19 symptoms or from when instructed to do so by the NHS test and trace service and to continue to self-isolate while waiting for a test result.