16 Aug 2010

Southampton News Extra

WATER chiefs have admitted for the first time they do not want to put fluoride in Southampton's supplies.
Bosses at Southern Water have said they would not add "unnecessary chemicals" if they didn't have to, but their hands are tied by a change in the law giving the final say to health officials.
The declaration has been hailed by anti-fluoride campaigners as further proof South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) should abandon controversial plans to fluoridate almost 200,000 homes" tap water.
Until now, Southern Water had insisted it had a "neutral" opinion of the scheme, which will affect residents in two-thirds of Southampton and parts of Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.
The firm only gave technical advice and information on the water supply system during the public consultation on the plans. But company secretary Kevin Hall has admitted in a letter to a local campaigner that the company would not add fluoride to the water if it didn't have to.
He said: "We would choose not to have to add chemicals that are not directly necessary for the provision of drinking water.
"However, there is a statutory process for the requirement of the addition of fluoride to drinking water we supply, and, if this is met, we have a statutory duty to comply with the requirement."
The law was changed in 2003 to put the decision on fluoridation in the hands of health authorities. The chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation been leading the campaign fighting the Southampton scheme, said he welcomed the company's position as further evidence of the opposition to the plans.
Stephen Peckham said: "They're in a sense caught between a rock and a hard place - whatever they think they'll be forced to do and what they're told by the health authority They're a water provider. That's their concern, not to add anything that isn't there to make the water suitable for consumption. From that point of view, adding fluoride changes their whole role. Lots of people have written to Southern Water and I think it just shows that they are paying heed to their customers."
An SHA spokeswoman said Southern Water had been invited to comment as part of the consultation, and insisted the organisation still believed in fluoridation.

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