THE controversial decision to fluoridate Southampton’s water has finally received glowing praise – from a national association of dentists and doctors.

South Central Strategic Health Authority’s (SHA) move to give the scheme the green light has been met with angry criticism from campaigners and many residents, who say local people’s wishes were ignored.

Scores say they will refuse to pay their water bills if their supplies are fluoridated.

It comes after 72 per cent of people living in the affected area who responded to the consultation opposed the plans.

Others are vowing to lodge a legal challenge against the decision, affecting nearly 200,000 Hampshire residents, while attempts are also being made to urge the European Union to step in.

Several MPs have expressed their horror that fluoridation is to proceed, while one is attempting to have the SHA censured for its “biased” handling of the public consultation.

But the National Alliance for Equity in Dental Health says the authority should be applauded for “not allowing itself to be blown off course by the strident voices of those who shouted loudest”.

The alliance is comprised of more than 60 health organisations, including the British Medical Association, the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners and Nursing, and the British Dental Association.

Big impact They believe fluoridation will have a bigger impact on dental health in the city than any other measure could possibly achieve, and is hoping it will now be introduced elsewhere in the country.

Professor Richard Parish, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, praised the SHA and Southampton City Primary Care Trust for their “careful and painstaking evaluation of the evidence”.

“Past experience of fluoridation consultations elsewhere has shown that opponents often raise objections which have little foundation in fact,” he said.

“Independent analysis of the claims they made during the Southampton consultation showed them to be similarly seriously flawed.”