A leading anti-fluoride campaigner is standing for Parliament in the next General Election in a move to halt a scheme to add fluoride to Southampton’s water supply.
John Spottiswoode has led the fight to stop the controversial plan to add fluoride to the city’s water supply since the idea was first mooted.
Now, the chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation wants to turn the vote into the referendum on fluoridation and will challenge government minister Labour MP John Denham for his place in Parliament.
He has been selected as the Green Party candidate for the Southampton Itchen seat at the next general election, which must be held by 3 June 2010.
He will also come up against Southampton City Council deputy leader Royston Smith, who will be standing as the Conservative candidate.
The decision to forge ahead with fluoirdation was made by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) following three months public consultation in Southampton and parts of south-west Hampshire.
This was despite more than seven out of ten of all respondents living in the affected area saying they were against the plans, and an independent phone survey showing more people against the scheme than for it.
It was initially proposed by Southampton City Primary Care Trust in an effort to reduce ‘unacceptable’ levels of dental decay among the city’s children, and received the backing of Hampshire Primary Care Trust and Southampton City Council.
But last month, a high court judge gave the go-ahead for a court challenge to the plans – and the move was seen by critics of the scheme as a major breakthrough in their campaign.
The legal challenge argues that the SHA failed to have regard for the government’s policy that mass fluoridation of drinking water should only go ahead in any particular area if a majority of the local people are in favour.
Mr Spottiswoode said: ‘Clearly, there are many other issues of importance in a general election and the Greens have substantial policies on all of these.
‘However, the big issue in Southampton of putting a known toxin in our water against our will goes to the heart of our democracy and what our politicians should do. What right does anyone have to force anyone else to drink what is widely considered to be a poison?
‘Further, by what right does an unelected health quango have to decide to add fluoride to our drinking water when a massive 72% rejected the idea in the public consultation, despite the authorities running a very biased pro-fluoride campaign?’
MP John Denham, the government’s Communities Secretary, has consistently said that he agrees with fluoridation as a principle.
However, earlier this year he changed his stance to say that although he personally believes it is the right thing to do, the scheme should be put on hold until it can be shown that the public agrees with adding fluoride to tap water.