26 Sep 2011

Echo In my view

CLLR DAVID HARRISON,
Liberal Democrats, Hampshire County Council
SHA should drop plans for fluoride
AS a long-standing regular reader of the Daily Echo, I can't recall any topic that has prompted so many contributions to the 'Your Views' pages than the issue of adding fluoride to tap water.
Although the plans relate to Southampton and surrounding areas, the matter is of national interest because it is widely believed that if the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) manage to impose it upon an unwilling population here, then it will be followed up in other parts of the country.
I pay tribute to the campaigning group Hampshire Against Fluoride because they have proved resilient and dogged in their determination to fight the plans, often at great personal cost to themselves.
They truly deserve respect for fighting a cause they believe in and so effectively.
I have been struck by the absolute certainty from the pro-fluoride supporters that the plans are in the public interest and carry little or no health risks.
This is only matched by the anti-fluoride supporters who believe equally strongly that the health risks are only too real and that to proceed would be effectively to poison the population on a massive scale.
Hearing all of the arguments, I struggle to form any firm conclusion other than to hold with the view that the precautionary principal should apply. If in doubt -leave it out!
My own particular hostility to the fluoride proposals centres around the issues of democracy, human rights and consent
Just about every elected councillor and MP in the area has expressed resistance to the plans.
The SHA carried out a consultation, whilst putting the case for fluoride, and despite this, the result was a firm thumbs-down, with more than 70 per cent of those responding indicating that they did not want it.
For me, the key point is that the plans really amount to mass medication.
I think the SHA has done very great harm. It has stubbornly forged ahead, using vast sums of our money in its efforts to impose this without any kind of electoral mandate.
This money could have been so much better utilised, targeting the young children who require much better oral healthcare.
Nobody is going to shed a tear that the SHA will soon be no more.
The very least that it could do, to salvage some remnant of public respect, would be to drop the plans - thus confirming what we always knew.
Nobody has the right to impose such a thing without consent.

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