Plans to add fluoride to drinking water in Southampton, Hampshire, England, have been voted against by the city council, but may go ahead anyway. The council’s vote follows heavy lobbying by ‘Hampshire Against Fluoridation’ including a petition signed by 6,000 people. The decision as to whether to fluoridate water in Southampton is up to the South Central Strategic Health Authority who decided in a unanimous vote that “the health benefits outweigh all of the arguments against water fluoridation”.
A Southampton resident, Geraldine Milner, had previously sued the strategic health authority claiming that the 2009 decision to fluoridate the water supply had been made, according to Milner, “without listening to all the people who said they didn’t want it here”. At the High Court, the judge decided in the favour of the strategic health authority noting that “it is not the law that fluoridation can only occur when a majority of the local population agree” and that it was up to the strategic health authority to make decisions regarding fluoridation.
Fluoridation is used in a number of other places in Britain including areas around Newcastle, Birmingham, Lincoln, Mansfield, and Bedford. Plans to scrap some water fluoridation plans in the north of England, as well as doubts about the cost of the scheme, have been used by campaigners in Hampshire to argue that the scheme should be abandoned.
The Health and Social Care Bill going through Parliament currently would abolish strategic health authorities in 2013. Royston Smith, the leader of Southampton City Council, said that if fluoridation takes effect, it will not be reversible without further legislation..