11 Jul 2013

Council leaders in joint fight

Southampton fluoridation scheme: Council leaders in joint fight

Councillor Simon Letts (left) and Councillor Roy Perry
Two council leaders are joining forces to fight a scheme which would see fluoride added to water supplies in Southampton and parts of Hampshire.
NHS chiefs agreed the move in 2009 but Public Health England (PHE) and Southern Water have yet to finalise details of the scheme.
PHE said it was still committed to a 2014 date to start fluoridation.
But Hampshire and Southampton council leaders believe new legislation may give them power to scrap the plan.
The South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) agreed to a request by Southampton City Primary Care Trust in 2009 to add fluoride to tap water for about 200,000 people, claiming it would be beneficial for children's health.
But the SHA was scrapped and its duties taken over by PHE on 1 April.
'Public opposed'
Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, said no contract was signed between Southern Water and PHE when the new body took over.
He argues that as a result the scheme may not be classed as "existing" and, under new legislation, only councils have the power to decide on new fluoridation projects.
He said: "I am organising a meeting with the leader of Hampshire County Council to come up with a way forward.
"We will look at what we can do with as little cost to the public as possible. The council would probably vote against it [fluoridation] and we will also consider a referendum."
Hampshire leader Roy Perry believes it is "impossible" to ensure only the homes in the consultation area get fluoride and possible legal concerns could be delaying the implementation.
He said: "We think it is wrong to put medication in our supply. It is impossible to add fluoride and guarantee where it will go.
"I'm happy to meet up with [Mr Letts]. There is no doubt local public opinion is opposed to it."
Meanwhile, confusion remains as to what stage the scheme is currently at.
The health body said it was still waiting for a final feasibility study from Southern Water, but the water company said the report "is in their [PHE's] hands"
A PHE spokeswoman added: "[We] are not aware of having received and accepted a final, completed report."
Stephen Peckham, from Hampshire Against Fluoridation which is concerned about possible adverse health effects said: "The whole situation is causing confusion."


rcannard said...

Fluoridation is item 12 on Hampshire County Council's meeting next week. The following motion has been put forward by Cllr Stallard and seconded by Cllr Carter:
"This Council notes that the recommendations on proposals for the fluoridation of drinking water in Southampton and South West Hampshire, as agreed by all political groups at full Council on 20th November 2008, Item 9, Minute 345, remain still to be addressed. Accordingly the Council reaffirms its position, primarily that the addition of fluoride to water supplies is not adopted until such time that clear evidence of benefit and no harm from mass medication has been established and that Public Health England be advised accordingly".
The council meeting is on Thursday 18th July at 10am and will be held at The Castle, Winchester and is open to the public.
It would be good for some supporters of HAF to make an appearance on the day.
The important issue now is whether Public Health England has the authority to progress fluoridation from the defunct SCSHA in its aim to introduce it in 2014.

Anonymous said...

OOOh dear. Real concern about "until ... no harm from mass medication has been established" - can't a motion be worded that confirms the Council's opposition to any mass medication AT ALL. Surely the councillors can see that it's not their job to sanction mass medication in any situation.