A REFERENDUM on plans to fluoridate Hampshire’s tap water would be “unethical”.
That is the claim from the county’s Green Party, which is arguing that a public vote on the controversial scheme would be littered with practical problems and an expensive waste of time.
The party, which has consistently opposed the plans – which would affect almost 200,000 people in and around Southampton – believes the people have already spoken on fluoridation, and delivered a resounding “no”.
Parliamentary candidate for Southampton Itchen, John Spottiswoode, wants the city council to urge South Central Strategic Health Authority to scrap its £400,000 defence of a judicial review of its decision to give the scheme the go-ahead.
Last week, the local authority voted to call on the SHA to hold a referendum on the plans, and ensure the public have the final say by abiding by the outcome, whichever way it went.
The move has been seen as a major boost for the campaign, spearheaded by the Daily Echo, for the controversial decision to be placed in the hands of the people, rather than health chiefs.
Southampton City Council was the only authority to endorse fluoridation during the S H A’ s p u b l i c consultation, in which 72 per cent of respondents from the affected area saying they did not want fluoridation.
Mr Spottiswoode, the former chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, said the opposition to fluoride is beyond doubt.
He said: “Southampton City councillors need to oppose water fluoridation as it is wrong in principle, not fudge the issue by hiding behind a call for a referendum.
“We urge Southampton City Councillors to urge the SHA to stop squandering nearly half a million pounds of NHS funds on fighting the Judicial Review.
“This effectively is using the public’s money to try to force us to take a chemical we have repeatedly said we do not want.
“It is a shocking and criminal waste of our money. This should be spent on treatment and front line services.”
Mr Spottiswoode said a referendum would be unethical because it “deprives the individual of the legal right to refuse medication”.
“What right do the majority have to overrule a minority’s right not to have their water supply medicated?” he said.
“The policy is a violation of medical ethics and human rights.”
After last week’s vote, the SHA said there is no mechanism that allows it to hold a referendum, and insisted the decision to fluoridate water supplies had been made in the best interest of residents.