COUNCIL bosses could call on the Government to step in to stop health chiefs adding fluoride to Hampshire water supplies in the months before their powers disappear.
A High Court legal bid to stop the controversial scheme starts tomorrow, but the health bosses who approved the plans say they will press ahead with the project if they win the case.
That is despite the Health Secretary confirming Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) will be scrapped early next year, with the say over future fluoridation proposals falling to elected councils instead.
And the heads of Southampton City and Hampshire County councils have told the Daily Echo they would fight any moves to introduce fluoride before power is handed to them, in a bid to make the process more democratic.
The two-day judicial review in London comes after a campaigner claimed South Central Strategic Health Authority should have paid more attention to public opinions expressed during its consultation.
More than 10,000 people had their say, with 72 per cent of respondents from the affected area – covering parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams – saying they were against fluoridation.
The SHA insists it did everything required by law before approving fluoridation.
During the consultation, the county council passed a motion saying it was opposed to the plans, as did the borough and district councils in Eastleigh, New Forest, Test Valley and Fareham.
Southampton’s councillors voted to support fluoridation, but have since changed their view to call for a binding referendum to be held to ensure public support before it could ever go ahead.
City council leader Royston Smith said despite not normally agreeing with single-subject public votes, he believes residents must have the final say “because it’s quite a fundamental thing to be putting something in people’s water”.
And he believes the SHA should not be allowed to continue with its plans when it is about to disappear.
Cllr Smith said: “Now we’ve got a new government, I would ask them to consider, just morally, if they think it’s right that a quango that’s on its way out can in law continue to fluoridate water against the wishes of the population.
“They should morally abandon their plans and leave it to the new regime that’s being put in place.”
Hampshire County Council leader, Cllr Ken Thornber, said the authority would challenge any moves to add fluoride to water supplies.
He said: “At the moment we do not have the power to prevent South Central Strategic Health Authority fluoridating the water if they win (the judicial review), but we may have in the future.
“We would continue to defend the right of local people to say no to the imposition of this proposal and if necessary appeal again directly to the Secretary of State to prevent this happening.