Fluoride Action Network

Southampton residents threaten to withhold payment in fluoridation row

Source: Hampshire Chronicle | March 4th, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

SCORES of Hampshire residents say they will not pay their water bills if fluoride is added to their supplies.

Campaigners fighting the controversial plans, which were approved by health chiefs last week, say they have been inundated with calls from people saying they want to take action to stop fluoride being added to the water.

Most insist they will withhold their cash from Southern Water, which supplies the 200,000 affected residents in and around Southampton.

But the company insists it has no say over fluoridation, and will take all action necessary to recover money from anyone who refuses to pay.

Campaign group Southampton Against Inclusion of Fluoride (SAIF) fought plans for fluoridation in the city in the 1990s.

Southern Water pulled the plug on that scheme fearing it could lose out after hundreds of people threatened to sue the firm if fluoride was added to the water.

The government has since changed the law, meaning water companies must fluoridate supplies if asked to by health chiefs who have carried out a public consultation.

Despite the group not actively fighting the scheme this time, a founder member of SAIF said she has had many calls since South Central Strategic Health Authority backed it.

“There’s a strong feeling that people should withhold their water rates,” said Yvonne Latham.

“I think people should do that – we certainly won’t be paying ours. The SHA should realise what they’re up against and that the people of Southampton are going to fight this.”

Last night, Southern Water said it would not accept people refusing to pay their bills, for any reason.

“The decision to add fluoride to the drinking water is one that the Strategic Health Authority has taken and Southern Water is required by law to comply,” said a spokeswoman.

“We will pursue those customers who choose not to pay for the services they are receiving.“We have a duty to those customers who pay their bills, to collect outstanding debt from those who have not paid, to ensure the cost of improving services is spread equally among all of our customers.”