Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Fluoridation in hands of councils, says PHE

Tap water Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Studies on water fluoridation have produced contrasting results

A director for Public Health England (PHE) has said the adding of fluoride to the public water supply is now in the hands of local authorities.

Dr Graham Bickler was responding to a question from Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry about PHE's plans.

But centre director Dr Bickler told the South East Strategic Leaders meeting in London he would seek clarification specifically on Hampshire's situation.

NHS chiefs agreed in 2009 to fluoridate water supplies in the Southampton area.

After an unsuccessful High Court challenge in 2011 and the abolition of the Strategic Health Authority, which was replaced by PHE in 2013, the plans are still to be implemented.

'Impacted communities'

Following the takeover, PHE said it was committed to starting fluoridation in 2014, but in a new statement it said: "PHE continues to give full and careful consideration to all the relevant factors relating to water fluoridation in Southampton and South West Hampshire.

"No decision has yet been taken and PHE is committed to working constructively with both local authorities.

"Southampton City and Hampshire County councils have a central role in any progress with the scheme and Public Health England is engaged in discussions with both."

Following Thursday's meeting, Mr Perry said: "For months now, Hampshire has been trying to get a clear statement out of PHE to that effect and, to date, they have singularly failed to answer our questions.

"It is not just the city of Southampton that is affected by the fluoride proposal. Hampshire communities all around the city could be impacted and I know the residents of Nursling and Rownhams that I represent do not consider they have been properly consulted.

"I hope my question to PHE will now get an answer and, indeed, the formal response will say it is up to the local authorities to determine whether or not fluoride should be added."

About six million people - 10% of the country - live in areas with fluoridated water supplies.

Opponents say the policy amounts to medicating the population without consent.

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