Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: Council vows to hold fair inquiry into water plans

Source: Daily Echo | September 16th, 2008 | By Matt Smith
Location: United Kingdom, England

SOUTHAMPTON council chiefs are confident their own inquiry into controversial plans to fluoridate the city’s water will be fair to both sides of the debate.

A select panel of councillors is holding an independent probe into the benefits and dangers of adding fluoride to the tap water of around 200,000 residents.

They have set up a series of meetings to hear evidence from those for and against the plans, proposed by city health bosses. The councillors will then report back to the full council for a debate in November.

The South Central Strategic Health Authority, which will make the final decision in February, launched a 14- week public consultation on the plans last Monday after rows over its independence and the fairness of publicity materials.

Former Southampton City mayor, councillor Edwina Cooke, who has arranged the council’s inquiry, said it would be balanced.

“We’ve had lots of interest.

Initially we were concerned we had more people for the fluoridation than we had against. But I think we have got a fair balance,” she said.

Representatives from New Forest District Council, Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have been invited to observe the meetings, which start next Monday.

However, once the inquiry has gathered its evidence, further representations and petitions to the full council will not be heard.

”Everyone will have plenty of opportunity to put their point in three lengthy meetings. Repeating the argument would not be a good use of council time,” said Councillor Simon Letts, chairman of Southampton City Council’s overview and scrutinymanagement committee.

A copy of the council’s inquiry will be passed to the strategic health authority, but there is no obligation to take the council’s views on board.