ONLY 2,500 people have had their say on controversial plans to fluoridate Southampton’s tap water.
Health chiefs have revealed the disappointing figures halfway through the 14-week public consultation on the scheme, and insist they are pleased with the response.
Nearly 200,000 residents in and around the city would receive water with topped-up levels of the chemical, and thousands more would drink it at work.
When the Daily Echo held a snap poll on the subject before the consultation started, we received 25,000 votes – two-thirds of which were opposed to the plans.
The views expressed during the consultation will be used to help South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) – the body overseeing the debate – decide whether or not to back the proposals.
Southampton City Primary Care Trust wants extra fluoride added to the water supplies to two-thirds of the city in an attempt to reduce tooth decay in children, especially in more deprived areas.
But opponents argue it will not bring the b e n e f i t s claimed, is an unethical form of mass medication, and could bring side-effects including mottled teeth, cancers and lowered IQ.
The SHA insists no decision has yet been made on the scheme and wants as many people as possible to have their say.
It has organised a series of drop-in events across affected parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton and Netley, and Question Time-style public debates.
While around 150 people attended the first debate at St Mary’s Stadium last month, turnout to the roadshow sessions has been poor.
More than 5,000 people have contacted the SHA with queries, but just half have completed feedback forms to ensure their opinions are included.
“Our role is to ensure local people have easy access to accurate information on this important issue and have the opportunity to share their views with us,” said consultation lead Kevin McNamara.
“The high number of responses we have received so far shows how local people are taking the opportunity to let us know what they think, as this is an important issue.
“It is important that people realise that no decision will be made until a full and independent analysis of the responses received through the consultation has been collated and reported to the SHA board. As the consultation enters its second stage there is still time for people to share their views and let us know what they think.”
The next Question Time event, which is free and open to all, is on November 18 at St Mary’s Stadium. The consultation runs until December 19.