Fluoride Action Network

Southampton/Hampshire: Fresh hope for a referendum

Source: Daily Echo | October 16th, 2009 | By Andy Tate & Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to fluoridate Hampshire water supplies have been given fresh hope after calls for a referendum were raised in Parliament.

Shadow health minister Andrew Lansley challenged the Government to give the people a vote on the controversial plans, saying the public consultation had been a waste of time and money

It comes just a week after another Tory minister said a Conservative Government would ensure residents have a say in fluoridation schemes.

During a Parliamentary debate Mr Lansley said: “There was such a process in Southampton and Hampshire, but it began with the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) setting out the evidence in support of fluoridation, and it ended with the SHA saying that it remained convinced by the same evidence.

“What is the point of consultation when a decision has been made already?”

More than 10,000 people responded to South Central SHA’s consultation, with 72 per cent of those living in the affected area, covering parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton Netley and Rownhams, opposing fluoridation.

In a separate phone poll of 2,000 residents, 32 per cent supported the scheme, compared to 38 per cent against it.

The SHA argues it is the role of Parliament to decide the rules, which it must then follow, and it met or exceeded all the requirements of it under the existing legislation.

Rejecting calls for a referendum Health Minister Mike O’Brien insisted the SHA’s only obligation was to take the views “on board”.

“Those views are important, and the people who make decisions must consider them and give them due weight, but they are not binding in the way that a referendum would be,” he said.

Mr Lansley’s comments were last night welcomed by the chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, John Spottiswoode, who is standing for the Greens against John Denham at the next election.

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See also Parliamentary debate on fluoridation, October 14, 2009