HAMPSHIRE residents have just five days left to share their views on the controversial scheme to fluoridate tap water supplies in and around Southampton.
Anti-fluoride campaigners made sure that message reached the people of Southampton at the weekend when they marched down the city’s High Street among the Christmas shoppers.
After 14 weeks, the public consultation ends at midnight on Friday.
So far, more than 8,000 people have submitted their feelings about the proposals to South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA), the body overseeing the region’s health care, which will make the final decision in February.
Another 2,000 residents are being asked their opinions in a separate phone poll.
However, with nearly 200,000 people living in the area that would receive fluoridated water, there are many more who have yet to tell the authority what they think about the plans.
Two-thirds of Southampton, as well as parts of Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams, are covered by the proposals.
The scheme to increase the amount of fluoride in tap water from 0.08 parts per million to one part per million has been proposed by Southampton City Primary Care Trust.
The body says it is essential in its efforts to help improve dental health in the city, particularly in youngsters living in more deprived areas.
Opponents argue that the plans amount to unethical mass-medication, which removes individuals’ right to choose.
Campaigners also say that extra fluoride could cause health problems, ranging from dental fluorosis causing mottled teeth to cancers and lowered IQ.
Stephen Peckham, from Hampshire Against Fluoridation, said: “We need to make sure anybody and everybody knows this is the last chance to make their comments known.
“Everyone needs to know these fluoride proposals are being made, and that they are wrong.”
The debate has raged during the consultation at three Question Time-style events and nine drop-in roadshow events.
Anti-fluoride campaigners have staged several talks and demonstrations, while letters both for and against have flooded in to the Daily Echo.
Kevin McNamara, consultation lead at the SHA, said: “There is still almost a week remaining and I would encourage anyone who has not yet shared their views with us on this important issue to do so.
“Every response we receive will be invaluable in helping the board of the Strategic Health Authority to make a decision on the proposal next year.”
Anyone can request a copy of the official consultation document, find out more about the proposal and share their views online at southcentral.
nhs.uk/fluoridation or by calling 0800 023 4680.