PRESS RELEASE: September 2014
Public Debate on Water Fluoridation
Hampshire Against Fluoridation has organised a public debate1 so local people can put questions to decision-makers from Southampton and Hampshire Councils, find out about the current legal position and what is happening “behind the scenes”. All local MPs were invited as was the Director of Public Health for Southampton. The following panel members2 agreed to take part:
- Councillor Dave Shields, Cabinet Member for Health, Southampton City Council
- Councillor Roy Perry, Leader, Hampshire County Council
- Councillor David Harrison, Hampshire County Council
- Keith Taylor MEP South East
The abolition of South Central Strategic Health Authority in 2013 was a key factor in putting the brakes on the scheme. As NO CONTRACTS were signed before their demise and no scheme finalised, plans to proceed cannot be continued by either Public Health England (PHE) or local councils without beginning the whole process again including a new feasibility study, costings and consultation.
As HAF has repeatedly pointed out, the legislation makes it clear that without a contract, NO SCHEME EXISTS and therefore PHE have no remit to implement one. HAF’s interpretation of the legislation concurs with that of Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Dr Julian Lewis MP, both of whom have corresponded with the Department of Health and PHE3. Legal arguments over interpretation of the regulations continue. This statement from HCC Leader Cllr Roy Perry in correspondence with HAF’s Bill Edmunds in June summarises the position of HCC: “We are currently in a process of legal argument with PHE and it would be inappropriate for me to say more at this point – other than we have not yet seen a legal argument in favour of the view that PHE can implement such a scheme”4.
There has been a shift in PHE’s position and they now claim to be undecided. A recent Freedom of Information5 request from HAF Chair John Spottiswoode generated this reply from PHE: “If PHE (on behalf of the Secretary of State) was minded to proceed with this proposed fluoridation scheme….it could do so …. by virtue of s.87(1) of the Water Industry Act 1991….and Article 7(1) of the Health & Social Care Act 20126 …Given that no decision as to whether or not to proceed has been made, PHE has not progressed the formal request to the water company to enter into arrangements”.
The region is still in limbo and will have to simply wait and see if PHE are “minded to proceed”.
Further opinions on the legality of the scheme will be made at the Public Meeting on 4th October.