Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: U-turn on fluoride angers Romsey Conservative MP Caroline Nokes

Source: Daily Echo | Parliamentary Corresponden
Posted on July 9th, 2010
Location: United Kingdom, England

A TORY MP has launched an outspoken attack on her own Government over its apparent climbdown on fluoridation in Hampshire.

Caroline Nokes, new MP for Romsey and Southampton North, pictured right, has written a strongly worded letter to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, in which she says she feels “very let down” by his failure to deliver a local referendum on the controversial move.

She has also backed the Daily Echo’s calls for a public referendum on the issue.

Before the general election, Mr Lansley, then shadow health secretary, told a Commons debate: “People must be given a more objective opportunity – either through a referendum or some other means – to make their views known.”

However, since May’s poll, Tory Commons Leader George Young, MP for North West Hampshire, has signalled that the Government has no intention of clearing the way for a local referendum on fluoridation.

In response to a question from New Forest East MP Julian Lewis, Sir George said: “The coalition Government have no plans at this stage to change the legislation under which the health authority is proceeding with its plans to add fluoride to the water in Southampton and the surrounding district.”

Now Mrs Nokes has revealed she had written to Mr Lansley to express her anger at the U-turn.

In her letter, she wrote: “Given the statements made prior to the election I am deeply disappointed with the statement…

that ‘there are no plans at this stage’ to change the law surrounding fluoride being added to water supplies.

“This was a significant election pledge, that local people would be given a proper say in a referendum, which in your own words, would give people a simple way to ‘make a decision about this’. As a candidate in that election I felt confident that we would not go down the route of the previous Government, promising much and delivering very little.

However, like my constituents, I now feel very let down.”

Mrs Nokes, noting that 72 per cent of those who responded during a public consultation were against fluoride being added to their water supply, suggested that a cheaper option would be to “instruct the Strategic Health Authority to abandon this proposal, and in so doing ensure the voice of local people is heard”.

The MP told the Daily Echo: “I actively campaigned to make sure this referendum happened so it is incumbent on me to make sure the Government sticks to its word. This is what disappoints people about politicians, when they say one thing and don’t carry it through. I’m going to hassle Andrew Lansley at every available opportunity, and letting him know how disappointed I feel.”

The decision by South Central Strategic Health Authority to approve the fluoridation of water supplies to the Southampton area is the subject of a judicial review, which is likely to be heard in the autumn.