EVEN if you had a referendum we wouldn’t change our minds!
That’s the message from health chiefs who say they will plough ahead with plans to fluoridate Hampshire water supplies regardless of whether the public get another chance to air their views.
Bosses at South Central Strategic Health Authority say it has already taken on board the opinions of county residents during a mass consultation – and another huge scale vote would not alter the outcome.
The Daily Echo is backing growing calls for a referendum on fluoridation for Southampton and surrounding areas, because campaigners argue the people’s voices were ignored.
Today they branded the SHA “arrogant” for refusing to reconsider the decision in face of fierce oppostion.
They were backed by one MP who claimed health chiefs were “in denial” over public opinion.
More than 10,000 people responded to the consultation, with 72 per cent of those living in the affected area – covering parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams – saying they were against it.
In a separate phone poll of 2,000 residents, 38 per cent opposed fluoridation compared to 32 per cent in favour.
Last week, Eastleigh Borough Council voted to demand the SHA holds a public poll, and is bound by its result, while several MPs have also said they believe it is the best way to resolve the issue.
But SHA campaigns manager Kevin McNamara insists the decision has already been made, adding: “We’ve done the opinion poll on this issue and the board would not reconsider its decision on the outcome of another one.
“A consultation has taken place and gathered a broad range of public opinion, and the board had to take into account all those points in making its decision. Any future polls or surveys would not alter the result.”
“We’re absolutely comfortable that at that stage it was a fair representation of public opinion in Southampton.”
Hampshire Against Fluoridation chairman John Spottiswoode said the SHA’s stance shows it is not interested in the voices of the people whose lives it is affecting.
“It just confirms what we thought, that they are just sheer arrogant and not going to listen to what the people say,” he said.
“The Nuffield Council on Bioethics said it is highly unethical to medicate people without their consent. The SHA is effectively saying they know better than anyone else, and won’t listen to the research which shows it doesn’t work and is damaging.”
Southampton North MP Sandra Gidley said the SHA is being “defensive” because it has failed to make the case for fluoridation.
“The SHA has always been in denial over public feeling because it’s quite clear to me that when the responses started coming in and were so heavily weighted in favour, they then produced their own poll,” she said.
“But even that showed that among those who had an opinion, people were against fluoridation so there’s always been an agenda there.
“To me it seems the only way of having proper clarity about public opinion is to ensure people have a vote and have access to the facts.”