THEY have been having their say for months, but campaigners from both sides of the fluoride divide are now going head to head in a series of public debates.
Residents and those who work in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton and Netley where fluoride could be added to water supplies, will get the chance to hear the opinions and then quiz the experts.
South Central Strategic Health Authority, the body which oversees the region’s healthcare and is running the 14-week public consultation on fluoridation, has organised three Question Time-style events.
After months of arguments since the decision to hold a consultation on the controversial scheme, the debates will be the first time the two sides have shared a stage.
Panel members at St Mary’s Stadium will include representatives from the Department of Health and Southampton City Primary Care Trust – which is the body that is behind the moves to increase fluoride in the water.
They will be joined by members of Hampshire Against Fluoridation and the National Pure Water Association, who argue that the scheme is unethical, has unproven health benefits and could lead to dangerous side effects.
The three evening events, to be held on October 20, November 18 and December 3, will be independently chaired by Peter White, the BBC’s disability affairs correspondent.
Olga Senior, the SHA’s director of communications and corporate affairs, said the events, which take place alongside nine drop-in roadshows, show the SHA wants to encourage the debate.
“Throughout the public consultation we are committed to providing local people with accurate information about water fluoridation along with plenty of opportunities for people to ask questions,” she said.
“We want to hear what those who live or work in the area think about the proposed scheme to help the SHA make a final decision next year.”
Anyone interested in attending the Question Time events needs to register in advance for a seat by calling 0800 023 4680.