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Southampton City Council are trying to find out more about plans to put fluoride in the city's water supply.
"What are your plans on fluoridation?" That's the question that the Deputy Leader of Southampton City Council has asked bosses at the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA) recehntly.
Cllr Jeremy Moulton has written to the SHA on behalf of the council in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the body's intentions over controversial plans to add fluoride to the city's water supply.
This comes in the same week that campaigners from Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) launched a petition opposing the plans. If the HAF can gather enough signatures that would trigger a debate in a meeting of Full Council.
The council and campaigners are concerned that with South Central NHS due to be wound up in the near future, the body will want to drive through its proposals for fluoridation in its final year. In his letter, Cllr Moulton states that:
"it is the strong view of the council that this issue should be deferred and passed to the local authority where a decision can then be made in due course by a democratically elected body."
The council has always had a strong remit to protect public health and this role will be further strengthened when the SHA comes to an end in 2012 under government plans.
Cllr Moulton said:
"The people of Southampton have a right to know what's happening with their water supply. I attended a packed meeting at the weekend and it was clear that this is an issue that residents are very passionate about. It's crucial that the Strategic Health Authority breaks its silence and lets people know where we are with this - what are the next steps? What are the timescales?
"The SHA is unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic and we do not believe it is in the best position to make such a far-reaching decision. The council strongly feels that this issue should be handed over to an elected and accountable body that has a clear mandate."