16 Jun 2011

Daily Echo - HAMPSHIRE: Judge examines controversial scheme

HAMPSHIRE: Judge examines controversial scheme
Fluoride plans in High Court
CONTROVERSIAL plans to fluoridate Hampshire tap water were today due to be studied again by a High Court judge.
Southampton mum Gerri Milner has lodged an appeal against a decision earner this year to refuse permission for a judicial review to be heard examining whether health chiefs properly studied evidence for and against the scheme before approving it in 2009.
In February a judge at London's Royal Courts of Justice ruled there should not be a hearing, and also dismissed her legal challenge arguing that South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) should have listened to public opinion before voting unanimously in favour of the plans.
During a public consultation on the scheme, which will affect nearly 200,000 residents in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams, 72 per cent of respondents said they were against fluoridation.
Mr Justice Edward Holman expressed sympathy with Ms Milner and other anti-fluoride campaigners, but ruled against her lawyers' arguments that the law says the SHA should have been bound by public opinion.
He also rejected claims that not all board members were fully aware of evidence against the scheme, despite legal obligations to consider the "cogency" of all the arguments, assessing whether they are good points and based on sound scientific evidence.
But Ms Milner's barristers were today planning to argue that the judge was wrong, saying there is no proof all members had read all the evidence. Since the judgement the SHA has announced its plans to move ahead with the scheme.
Campaigners and council bosses have condemned that move as "arrogant", because the Government plans to scrap all SHAs by April next year.
Powers over fluoridation schemes would then pass to elected councillors.
Hampshire County Council has said it is opposed to the proposals, while Southampton City Council members voted to say they believe there should be a referendum to give residents the say over the plans.
Campaign group Hampshire Against Fluoridation is running a petition to try to force the authority to debate a motion calling on it to say it will oppose adding fluoride to tap water. To find out how to sign the petition visit dailyecho.co.uk.

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