IT was a pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister back to Salisbury on Monday morning to mark the anniversary of the Novichok attack in the city and to acknowledge all those who have suffered – directly and indirectly – as a result.

It was particularly fitting that she chose to spend time at the cathedral, which needs and deserves a good year after a challenging 12 months.

The PM also dropped in on two local businesses – Smith England and Casa Fina. Both of them represent the resilience and positivity that has characterised our retailers’ response to the challenges of the past year.

Phil Smith welcomed the PM to his High Street salon on the same day that he launched a range of new haircare products into Sainsbury’s stores and Susi Mason (Casa Fina) is marking 36 years of independent trading in Salisbury – one of more than 200 independent businesses consistently adding quality and variety to the city’s retail offer.

The past week also brought the welcome announcement by the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, of £11 million extra investment into chemical defences and Porton Down.

The money will further boost the UK’s defences against chemical attacks. Around the world, there is evidence of these type of dangers increasing and it is vital we respond to changing and emerging threats and keep ourselves at the cutting edge of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence.

The new money will go towards a number of developing plans, including the deployment of drones and robots into potentially hazardous areas, putting personnel in less danger and identifying threats faster.

It will also improve DSTL’s ability to analyse substances, by investing in new technical capabilities and help to keep the UK at the forefront of medical advances to combat the effects of exposure to chemical agents.

Last weekend, I was pleased to attend the annual Charter Service and on Friday night I will take part for the 10th time in Alabare’s sleep-out.

I am then off, by train, to Manchester to speak to a conference on Credit Unions.