County gives thumbs down to fluoridation

County councillors have rejected proposals for one of the south coast's largest cities to add fluoride to its drinking water.

Hampshire County Council unanimously voted against artificial fluoridation of the water in Southampton and South West Hampshire after an investigation by a special panel of councillors.

Responding to a consultation by the local Strategic Health Authority (SHA), the council said more research and reassurances are needed before Southampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT) takes any further steps.

The PCT has proposed the move to reduce what it says are “unacceptable levels of dental decay” in Southampton, but the county council raised fears it could instead damage the population’s dental health.

Council leader Ken Thornber said: “The Southampton City PCT wants to improve the oral health of specific communities in Southampton, but their proposals will impact on people in South West Hampshire who do not have the same problems of poor dental health.

“There may be some benefit to some children living in the affected area but there is also a strong possibility that children with otherwise health teeth may develop a degree of fluorosis.”

But just a day earlier, Southampton City Council had voted 26 to 18 to back the plans.

Andrew Mortimore, public health director for Southampton City PCT, said: “We are delighted by the fact that elected councillors who represent Southampton, which makes up the majority of those who would benefit from fluoridated water in the proposed scheme, have decided to support water fluoridation.”

He added that he hoped more residents would follow the city councils’a lead and support the proposals.

The South Central Strategic Health Authority has sent out more than 110,000 consultation forms to households in Southampton and South West Hampshire, and has been holding free Question Time-style events for residents at Southampton FC’s stadium.

Kevin McNamara, from the SHA’s consultation team, said: “We are making every effort to collect as many views as possible from people who live or work in the area and we want to hear from everyone.”

Kate Martin

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