IS this what you thought you were voting for?
That is the question Hampshire campaigners are asking of every MP who passed the law giving local people the power to decide on controversial schemes to fluoridate water supplies.
Hampshire Against fluoridation (HAF) is writing to the 220 politicians, including Southampton representatives John Denham and Alan Whitehead, who voted for the Water Act in 2003, to see if they still agree with it.
The group hopes the responses will provide a springboard towards getting the laws scrapped.
Campaigners argue promises made when the proposed laws were debated in the House of Commons have been broken.
Ministers said a “clear majority” of local people would have to be in favour for a scheme to fluoridate tap water to get the green light.
But health chiefs last year unanimously passed plans to fluoridate supplies to almost 200,000 Hampshire homes despite widespread public opposition.
More than 10,000 people responded to South Central Strategic Health Authority’s consultation on the scheme – affecting parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams – with 72 per cent of those from the affected area saying they were against it.
In a separate phone poll of 2,000 residents, 38 per cent said they opposed fluoridation, compared to 32 per cent in favour.
Since the scheme – the first to be introduced since the 2003 law came into force – was approved, a 15,000-name petition has been handed to the Prime Minister calling for him to step in and overturn the decision.
The SHA argues it did everything the law and Government guidelines required of it during the consultation, and the decision was made in the best interests of the health of local people.
A judicial review has been lodged through the courts, and senior judges are this year expected to study whether the health authority should have had to listen to public opinion.
HAF is now asking MPs who voted through the law if they would still support it, knowing that public opinion could be ignored.
The group believes Government assurances swayed the vote.
During the Commons debate, health minister Melanie Johnson said: “There is a difficulty in weighing up the responses, but whatever the case, local opinion must be in favour of the proposal. A clear majority should be in favour of fluoridation.”
Similar promises were made in 2005 when the rules on fluoride consultations went through Parliament.
HAF argues that putting the decision in the hands of the 12 un-elected SHA board members is “undemocratic and ethically wrong”, and goes against those assurances.
Member Bill Edmunds said he hopes MPs’ responses will help put more pressure on the Government to change the rules.
“It will be interesting to see how many do return the form – if we get a good response it would help to get a fresh look at the legislation,” he said.