CAMPAIGNERS have launched a fighting fund to help take their bid to stop fluoride being added to Hampshire’s tap water to the courts.
Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) is taking legal advice on challenging the decision to add fluoride to the water supplies of nearly 200,000 residents in Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.
With no formal appeal process available against South Central Strategic Health Authority’s (SHA) backing for fluoridation, a judicial review remains the most likely route for campaigners.
But going through the courts to question the decision, made after a public consultation last year in which 72 per cent of respondents from the affected area said they were against the plans, could cost thousands of pounds.
HAF is now asking anyone opposed to fluoridation to donate whatever they can afford towards the cost of launching its legal challenge.
It is setting up a fund, but says all money will be returned if it is not used.
The group estimates it will initially need more than £1,000 to start its legal bid, but that amount will rise sharply to as much as £10,000 as the challenge progresses.
Organisers have already gathered more than 2,000 names on a petition they plan to deliver to Prime Minister Gordon Brown once they have reached 10,000 signatures.
“Getting signatures is actually proving pretty easy, because people are really angry about it,” said HAF member Bill Edmunds, from Cadnam.
“It’s a major thing we’re fighting, but I’m optimistic in a way, because everyone is so fired up about it. We’re certainly not going to give in.”
Several Hampshire MPs have also launched challenges to the plans to top up fluoride from 0.08 parts per million to one part per million, which could happen as soon as next year.
New Forest East MP Dr Julian Lewis has complained to the parliamentary and local government ombudsman about the “hopelessly biased” public consultation.
And Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne has called on the Environment Agency to investigate the potential impact of extra fluoride on the county’s rivers and waterways.
The SHA backed fluoridation, arguing that it is the best way to improve poor dental health in Southampton’s children, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds.
HAF is holding an open meeting between 12 noon and 6pm on Saturday, April 4, at Central Baptist Church, Devonshire Road, Southampton.