IT’S customary at this point in the year to look back on its memorable moments, highs and lows.

As a councillor, 2023 has certainly had its challenges.

Whether it was a costly and futile parish poll over an inevitable rise in council tax, hanging baskets, Gilbert the disappearing dragon, Christmas lights … you name it, we’ve seen our city pilloried in the national press, complete with disparaging quotes from Conservative figures who ought to know better.

I can’t think of any community of comparable size that’s faced so much hostile scrutiny, from the Mail and Telegraph in particular.

I am sure it is entirely unrelated to the political make-up of our city’s current administration.

Our traders must have felt sicker than a kid faced with a plate of sprouts when they read the latest outpouring of negativity in the Mail, about our seasonal decorations, just before Christmas.

As a councillor, I accept that personal criticism comes with the territory, but I don’t accept this constant public rubbishing of our city. Who knows how many potential visitors were deterred from coming here to spend their precious pounds on the mistaken assumption that our festive offering was lacklustre?

Meanwhile in the real world, what’s been going on? Supporting residents in their fight against unsuitable greenfield housing sites has taken a lot of time. You have only to look at Wiltshire’s ideas to see why it’s so important for Salisbury to have its own strong local voice.

Murals breaking out all over the place, brightening things up wonderfully. I was very proud to help our Civic Society choose the design for Fisherton Street.

Our tree strategy – criticised because we paid consultants to help write it, but it won us almost £135,000 in central funding for more planting around the city.

At long last, getting our Neighbourhood Plan to the stage where it can be considered by an independent inspector and, with luck, go to a referendum. It could mean more money for Salisbury from developments and more say in our city’s future.

Overlapping with that, regular meetings with neighbouring parishes that have helped us to understand our common interests.

Working with residents on their problems - a vital, satisfying but largely unseen part of the job.

So do I feel we’ve been ‘splurging’ on unspecified ‘green stuff’, as our opponents suggest? I only wish we could do that.

Today there are primroses flowering in my garden. They think it’s spring. That’s climate change, right here outside my front door.

Happy New Year!

Annie Riddle

Independent city councillor for Harnham West