Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: ‘The public has not been convinced it’s the right thing to do’

Source: Daily Echo | June 29th, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

THE people should have the final say.

That is the message from a Hampshire MP backing calls for the public to be given a vote on plans to fluoridate Hampshire tap water.

Sandra Gidley who represents Romsey and north Southampton, believes the people affected by the controversial scheme have not been convinced by the case in favour of it.

And the Lib Dem MP says the decision on what goes in the water supply must be made by those who drink it.

“There’s such a range of evidence out there that I could actually give you a very convincing argument both for or against fluoridation,” she told the Daily Echo.

“But ultimately I think the public has to have faith in what’s being put in its water and if the people who are in favour cannot convince people it’s the right thing to do then it shouldn’t happen.

“It’s quite simple really.”

During last year’s public consultation on the scheme to fluoridate the water supplies of nearly 200,000 homes in Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams, some 10,000 people had their say.

Of those who gave their views to South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA), some 72 per cent of people living in the affected area said they opposed the scheme.

In a separate phone survey of 2,000 people, 38 per cent were against fluoridation, compared to 32 per cent in favour.

But in February the SHA’s board unanimously approved the plans, saying they were convinced by the medical case.

The Daily Echo is backing calls for a referendum on fluoridation, because of the strength of opposition to the scheme, and Mrs Gidley agrees.

“I don’t know if there’s any precedent for doing it, but I can’t see any problem with doing it and it would seem to be the most democratic way of doing it,” she said.

“One argument put forward by the SHA was that it was only those who are anti who were motivated to send in forms and when they did their separate call around they got a different view.

“But of those who had made up their minds there were certainly more against than in favour.

“I’ve always felt that the people should have the final say, and that’s what the spirit of the legislation was meant to be.”