13 Feb 2011

Court decision brings threat to Gloucestershire's water

The High Court has just ruled that South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA) was not acting unlawfully in seeking to add fluoride to Southampton's tap water. Basically the court has said that the health authority was not required to defer to public opposition.

The worry is that other local authorities had put their fluoridation schemes on hold, pending the outcome of the case. The judge expressed sympathy for people who disagreed with fluoridation but said there was no illegality in the decision-making process.

It is apparently not the law that fluoridation can only occur when a majority of the local population agree. The decision to add fluoride to water came after 72% of those who responded to public consultation opposed it, with 28% in favour!! Parliament it seems has entrusted area-specific decision making to the relevant strategic health authority (SHA) - what now with the abolition of SHAs?

Campaign groups including the Safe Water Campaign for Gloucestershire of which I am a founding member, have backed Ms Milner's case, arguing that there are potential side effects from bone cancer to thyroid problems and brown spots on the teeth. None of this can be taken into account. Doug Cross writing in UK Councils Against Fluoridation still believes we can challenge the legality of adding fluoride to our water supplies.

Responding to the judgment, Geraldine Milner stated afterwards: “I am obviously disappointed. This is a grim day for justice for the people of Southampton. I am speaking with my legal team with regard to an appeal and sincerely hope to continue the fight.”

See article here on our Safe Water Campaign site here.

The decision now makes it easier to fluoridate Gloucestershire - although at present we have been assured this is not on the agenda at the moment. I fear that as other schemes go ahead the pressures will build.

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