24 Jul 2009

Lymington Times - Health chiefs have vowed that their decision to add fluoride to Totton's water supply will not be overturned

Health chiefs have vowed that their decision to add fluoride to Totton's water supply will not be overturned despite Hampshire County Council agreeing to look into the possibility of a referendum.
The measure to fight child tooth decay, which is targeted at Southampton, will affect about 8,000 Totton residents if it comes into force in 2010 due to the layout of the pipes and will mean an increase in fluoride from its current level of 0.08 parts per million to one part per million.
The decision was unanimously made by the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) in February after proposals from Southampton Primary Care Trust despite 72% of residents stating they did not want it.
At a meeting of the full county council on Thursday in last week, Totton south and Marchwood member David Harrison proposed that a public vote on fluoride should be taken.
He said: "The Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that local people should decide the issue. Clearly then,
some sort of public vote should take place so that this can happen."
In noting the motion, the county council referred it for consideration to the health overview and scrutiny committee which will assess the logistical, cost and legal implications of making a request for a public referendum and whether it would be possible for such a request to be carried out at a sub-regional level. The committee is due to report back in September.
Leader of the council, Coun. Ken Thornber, said: "We have already made our views very clear on this matter and do not support fluoridation. Although we understand the wish to tackle tooth decay rates among children in specific Hampshire communities, the case for widespread fluoridation has not been made scientifically.
"Our concern remains that there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding the effects of fluoride, not only on otherwise healthy teeth that may develop a degree of fluorosis as a result, but also on the body as a whole.
"We do need to engage with the strategic health authority on the possibilities for a future referendum or public ballot, but any decision in support of such action should be deferred until we have had a chance to first look carefully at several issues.
"We would not want to jeopardise the strong arguments we intend to make as part of our witness statement for the judicial review of the strategic health authority's final decision, nor would we wish to fully support a referendum without knowing the legal position of such a move.
"Similarly it's important to carefully examine how any public vote could be conducted so that the process has integrity and that there is public confidence in the result. We would also wish to clarify what costs there might be to the public and what resources might be needed."
He added that an actual referendum would need to be the subject of a specific bill approved by Parliament and at this stage it was unclear what powers the government has to ask for a referendum in a sub-region.
Coun. Harrison added: "I'm pleased with this outcome. Almost all members seem to agree that the plans should not proceed without public consent. This latest development will add to the pressure on the strategic health authority to put their plans on hold."
However a spokesperson for the health authority told the 'A&T': "Having followed due process and arrived at this conclusion, the SHA is confident that the decision taken remains in the best interest of the local population in the fight against childhood tooth decay.
"The authority is not aware of any additional evidence or reason that would justify the decision to fluoridate the water in Southampton to be reversed."

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