Fluoride Action Network

Southampton/Hampshire: Echo campaign for fluoride referendum mounting

Source: Daily Echo | July 14th, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

TWO local authorities could be set to add their voices to the growing clamour for a referendum on controversial plans to fluoridate Hampshire tap water.

Hampshire County and Eastleigh Borough councils will this week vote on motions demanding South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) holds a public poll on the plan.

There have been increasing calls for a referendum on fluoridation as campaigners say the people have been ignored over the plans to add the chemical to the water supplies of nearly 200,000 homes.

If they pass the motions at meetings on Thursday, the authorities would join Hampshire MPs Julian Lewis, Sandra Gidley and Chris Huhne in calling for the public to be given a vote.

Southampton’s Labour MPs Alan Whitehead and Cabinet member John Denham have both said fluoridation should be put on hold because of widespread opposition, but do not believe a referendum is the right way to decide the issue.

More than 10,000 people gave their views during last year’s consultation, with 72 per cent of respondents in the affected area – covering parts of Southamp-ton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams – opposed.

In a separate phone survey of 2,000 residents, 32 per cent backed fluoridation compared to 38 per cent against it.

But the SHA board unanimously approved fluoridation, saying it had been convinced by scientific evidence showing it will improve dental health.

Both Hampshire and Eastleigh councils, along with New Forest District and Test Valley Borough councils, voted not to support fluoridation when they debated it during the consultation.

The county council motion has been put forward by Totton councillor David Harrison, who with Dr Lewis has also jointly submitted a complaint to the health services ombudsman claiming the SHA was “biased”.

The SHA has always insisted it met or exceeded all its legal obligations during the consultation.

“When the Prime Minister visited Southampton he clearly said that this is an issue for local people to decide. I agree with him,” said Cllr Harrison.

“If Hampshire County Council supports my motion, it will be impossible for the Government and the Strategic Health Authority to ignore.”

The Eastleigh motion calls on the SHA to hold a referendum “and abide by the results”.