Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: New Forest East MP Julian Lewis calls for minister to prevent costly court fight over fluoride plan

Source: Daily Echo | February 3rd, 2014
Location: United Kingdom, England

A HAMPSHIRE MP is urging a Government minister to intervene and decide the fate of the county’s fluoridation scheme.

New Forest East MP Julian Lewis has written to the Under Secretary of State for the Department for Health (DfH), Jane Ellison.

He wants her to use her powers to decide once and for all whether fluoride will be added in the tap water of 200,000 Hampshire residents.

As revealed in the Daily Echo, the plans are now heading for a potentially-costly court battle as Public Health England (PHE) and local authorities are at loggerheads over whether the scheme even exists any more.

While PHE is adamant it does, bosses at Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council believe there is no scheme due to a failure to hand over key documents to PHE from the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

The SHA, which was scrapped last year, had been the body charged with implementing the scheme, even though no consultation was carried out with affected residents.

If the scheme does go ahead, fluoride would be added to the water of homes in parts of Southampton, Totton, Netley, Eastleigh and Rownhams.

PHE and the councils have opposing legal advice, and city council leader Simon Letts told the Daily Echo that the only way the dispute would now be resolved would be through legal action.

Now Dr Lewis is seeking to get a definitive answer by writing to his Conservative colleague.

In the letter, he said: “Because of a five-month delay to find out what the Government and PHE’s appraisal of the situation is, further public money is about to be wasted on a court case in a cause for which there is little or no local support, which the Government says is the key factor.

“This runs contrary to all the principles of why the Government passed responsibility for public health to local councils.

“This cannot be right and I ask you to exercise what powers you may have to make a final decision, once and for all, and to stop money being wasted by PHER in a process which can only benefit the lawyers.”