26 Jun 2009

Southampton Daily Echo - Fluoride decision: the people NEVER had a choice

Fluoride decision: the people NEVER had a choice
SO the cat is out of the bag - or the dentures are out of the glass.
In her response to the 15,000-name petition calling for the plan to add fluoride to Southampton's drinking water to be scrapped, health minister Ann Keen finally nails any misconception that there had been any hope that the public's views would be listened to.
Mrs Keen, pictured, confirmed that the Government was in favour of fluoride and the Strategic Health Authority did not in law have to pay any attention to what the people of the city thought or wanted.
That's that then - and makes a mockery of her own Prime Minister's view relayed to the Daily Echo - that this should be a matter for the citizens of Southampton to decide.
It also undermines her Cabinet colleague, Southampton MP John Denham, who has gone on
record in calling for the plan to be shelved, although he also says he supports the principle of fluoride in drinking water.
What concerns Mr Denham, local politicians and this paper, is not so much that fluoride is . necessarily dangerous, but that mass medication should be something people agree with and not something forced upon them.
It is not too late. The SHA can still reign back from this plan and instead of pouring public cash into fighting any legal challenges in the pipeline agree to a referendum. If, as the STA says, there is no firm evidence that the majority of residents are against the plan then they should have nothing to fear.
If they go ahead now with a discredited and deeply unpopular scheme they risk alienating a whole population.

.... but show sympathy for the poor minister
Mind you, I do have some sympathy for junior Health Minister Ann Keen (see left) for her daft decision, she is, after all, under a lot of pressure.
It must be terrible for her having to fend off the national press after it was revealed she and her husband have claimed £140,000 for a second home flat that is ten minutes walk from Parliament while their "main" home is boarded up ten miles away.
Difficult to get a grip of such a complicated issue as dental health in Hampshire when you've been threatened with having your boarded-up "main" home seized by the council after you admit you haven't lived there for months. Poor luv.

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