MEMBERS of Test Valley Borough Council have overwhelmingly voted against fluoridation of the public water system.
During a debate at full council last week members argued for and against the controversial issue following a campaign by Cllr Alan Dowden opposing fluoridation in any part of Test Valley.
The issue arose because Southampton Primary Care Trust (PCT) is considering a small increase in the natural level of fluoride to combat a dental health problem in some parts of the city.
It would also affect southern parts of Test Valley and Mr Dowden submitted a motion to oppose the encroachment into the council’s area.
At full council he said the USA’s national research had found fluoride actually damaged teeth, the brain, might cause cancer, can weaken bones and interferes with glands and hormones.
Lib/Dem leader Len Gates, himself a professional food chemist, said: “The most telling factor to me was although fluoride has been added to drinking water for over 50 years there is no undeniable proof it actually works. On the other side of the argument there is sufficient doubt about the safety of the proposition to think twice and think carefully about adding fluoride to our water supplies.”
Cllr Tony Ward, however, argued there was plenty of evidence that fluoride in the water was beneficial.
And Cllr Mark Cooper argued that small amounts of fluoride were not harmful to the population as a whole.
He said: “When I asked my wife what I should do she said it was a ‘no-brainer’ because if you look at the quality of the anti and pro research the balance is in favour of the pro.
“That is why the vast majority of medical and dental professionals are in favour of fluoridation of the water.”
By a vote of 26 to 10 the council agreed not to endorse additional fluoridation of the borough’s water supply until evidence of its positive health benefits was produced.
The council also said it was in favour of targeting resources to improve the dental health of those who would benefit most.
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A brief outline of Test Valley. Test Valley has a population of over 100,000, and covers an area of approximately 157,000 acres (245 square miles).
First becoming a District Council on 1st April 1974 (an amalgamation of the Andover and Romsey Borough Councils and the Rural District Councils of Andover, Romsey and Stockbridge), Test Valley was subsequently granted Borough status.
It occupies a major part of western Hampshire, rubbing shoulders with the County of Wiltshire. Immediately to the north lies West Berkshire, with the New Forest and Southampton to the south, and Salisbury and Winchester respectively to the west and east.
The Borough’s name is derived from the renowned River Test, Hampshire’s longest river, which rises at the village of Ashe, near Overton, and flows through the chalk downlands collecting spring fed tributaries on its way to the sea at Southampton Water.
Test Valley’s main towns are Andover and Romsey.