Like a dripping tap, the saga of Southampton’s fluoride debacle is fast turning from a trickle of bad news to a flood.
As this paper reports today (front page) [see full article], the latest twist in this tale comes in a form that manages to pull the rug even further from beneath any understanding that the consultation into whether parts of the city should have the chemical added to their water was satisfactory.
After managing to upset just about everybody by giving the impression the consultation would lead to the public’s views being taken into account – like ditching the whole idea if the majority said no – and then doing the complete opposite; it now turns out that parts of the city that were not even consulted will get the fluoride-added water anyway.
So we have parts of the population feeling aggrieved because they were asked but then ignored, and now parts of the population who have not even had the chance to have their say.
Brilliant – couldn’t think of a better way to upset just about everybody.
Lurking in the background we already have a legal threat to the decision by health chiefs to plough ahead regardless of public opinion. This will surely only make matters worse.
Quite apart from the blow this has been to the idea of public health being an inclusive agreement with communities and putting aside the damage this has done to the image of local democracy – even though no one was ever promised a vote – it is a good old fashioned mess.
The best plan now would be for all those involved to get back to the table, agree a full debate and city-wide vote, or at least postpone the addition of fluoride until the next local election when the parties can take their stance.
In the end the people should have the full facts and then be given the right to choose.