16 May 2011

Daily Echo In my view

Fluoridation is against the flow
By Anna Peckham
IT seems perverse that the Strategic Health Authority (SNA) is still determined to push ahead with plans to fluoridate the region's water despite the fact that the SHA itself will be abolished next year.
With big changes proposed for the way health services are organised and this government's emphasis on localism, it is illogical that a hugely unpopular decision I taken in 2009 by an unelected soon-to-be-scrapped quango can be allowed to proceed.
From next year, public health decisions will be transferred to local councils.
The Department of Health says that it "wishes to consider how, in any future local consultations on proposals for new fluoridation schemes, fuller account can be taken of the views of the people that would be affected". This is a blatant admission of the failure of the Southampton consultation.
So why is the Department of Health still supporting the SHA and instructing it to push ahead regardless? Clearly, it thinks that transferring power to local councils will make this process more "democratically accountable" in other regions.
As Justice Holman emphasised at the recent court hearing, the original legislation is drawn up in such a way as to empower health authorities to do what they want without scrutiny. All that is required is for the board of directors to say they have given "due regard" to local opinion, without actually doing so. The scheme can proceed - even if 99.9 per cent of local people are opposed.
It also transpires that the Department of Health sees this area as the perfect place to conduct a long-term research study into the effects of fluoridation on children.
Now is the time to ask your councillor what their view is on I this issue. If, like some of those I I have spoken to, they tell you it is "not a council issue", inform them 1 that they are wrong. From next year, it will be a council issue and we need to know what our councillors' views are. So ask your councillors how they would vote in a future debate -would they keep this chemical out of your drinking water?
Southampton City Council needs to follow the example of other councils in Hampshire and take action to reject fluoridation.
Now is the time to tell the SHA that, if the scheme is implemented, the council will reverse the decision when it assumes responsibility for public health next year. The council could simply stop dosing the water with hexafluorosilicic acid, refuse to purchase this toxic waste-product and mothball the expensive equipment that the SHA is squandering public money on.

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