HE’S the man who will now lead the fight to stop fluoride being added to tap water in and around Southampton.

John Spottiswoode has been elected as the new chairman of the Hampshire Against fluoridation (HAF) campaign group.

And the 57-year political activist, below, said it would be a “crucial” year for the campaign with the regional health authority now having just ten months to implement its controversial fluoridation plans before it is abolished in an NHS shake-up.

Mr Spottiswoode said he wanted to make sure Southampton City Council, which will get powers to stop the scheme in April next year, doesn’t “back slide” on its opposition to fluoridation under the new Labour administration.

The former Green Party parliamentary candidate, who has now joined the Labour Party, said HAF needed to maintain its scientific credibility in its fight against the mass medication plans – something he said the health authority had not done.

He previously led the campaign group from 2008 to 2010 and takes over the chairmanship from Stephen Peckham, who stood down at HAF’s annual meeting.

Mr Peckham, the director of the Department of Healthfunded Policy Research Unit is moving from Southampton with wife Anna – also a leading antifluoride campaigner – after landing a professorship studying health services at the University of Kent.

Mr Peckham said he believes HAF has every reason to celebrate its efforts in opposing South Central Strategic Health Authority’s plans to add the chemical to water in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.

As reported, health bosses are currently working with Southern Water on the specifics of how to put fluoride in tap water, after last year defeating a High Court legal challenge aimed at having the project ruled unlawful.

The SHA is hopeful fluoridation will be in place by next year, before it is disbanded as part of the Coalition Government’s reforms of the NHS.

Mr Peckham said: “We’ve come such a long way over the last fewyears, and I want to stay involved when we’re hopefully so close to a successful conclusion.

“It’s such an important issue and it’s galvanised me into many other things.

“The whole campaign has worked very well.

“We’ve had great success raising this as a local political issue that the council had to take notice of.

“Here we are, three years after the decision and nothing has happened. The SHA is saying it’s going to get it in by the skin of its teeth, which is just farcical.

“I think everyone involved in the campaign can be very proud of themselves.”