Campaigners call for Council to hold overdue consultation
Campaigners from Fluoride Free Bedford say they have been waiting for three years for a consultation to end a contract with Anglian Water to prevent fluoride returning to the Borough’s water supply.
In 2016, the borough council voted in favour of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation to adopt the precautionary principle on the issue of water fluoridation, ending the (almost) fifty-year-old contract with Anglian Water. In its conclusions, the Scrutiny Committee noted that the supposed harmful effects of fluoridation are not scientifically proven.
A public consultation was expected this year, and now the Fluoride Free Bedford group is calling for the council to follow through on its promise. On 7th September 2016, Bedford Mayor, Dave Hodgson, showed his support for the council’s vote and stated at a public meeting, “We have to go through a legal process. We must make sure it’s not open to challenge, so we’ll do things in due process and make sure we do it correctly so fluoride doesn’t go back in the water. We’ll do that in the proper manner in consultation with our legal colleagues. It’s not in the water, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t go back in. But I’m not going to put it at risk by doing some things hastily so that it could be challenged by others.”
According to the Fluoride Free Bedford group, the Secretary of State for Health and Anglian Water have written to the Council stating that it’s possible to vary, change or end the contract, but they have failed to act.
The group’s co-ordinator, Cynthia Bagchi, said, “Even Brexit has been quicker. We want to know who is holding us up and blocking the next stage to end the contract. Unless we stop the contract, fluoride can be put back in the water without citizens’ knowledge.”
The fact that “less harm” has been done to the community of Bedford over the last ten years, nevertheless causes for celebration. Cynthia Bagchi adds: “It’s very simple – if you poison people they are harmed, more so if you are a baby in the womb, a baby, a toddler or child. Science tells us that fluoride is a poison, not a nutrient. It is unfortunate that some people in the past, and even some people still today, get this basic fact wrong.”
Fluoride Free Bedford state that the government is advocating more water fluoridation for better oral health in its Green Paper despite, they say, of evidence of a link between fluoride consumption and reduced IQ in humans shown in over 60 studies.
A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council said, “The Council is following a complex statutory process to vary the local water fluoridation agreements, which requires the involvement of the neighbouring local authorities. The Council is taking advice on precisely how those authorities should be involved and will proceed to a public consultation as soon as the role of the neighbouring authorities is clearly established. There is currently no fluoride added to the water in Bedford Borough, and this has been the case for 10 years”
Cllr Louise Jackson, the Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing said: “Fluoride Free Bedford make a number of claims regarding the safety of water fluoridation. Whilst the Council took the decision in 2016 to remove fluoride from the water-based on the recommendation of the Adults and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in its conclusions the Scrutiny Committee noted that the supposed harmful effects of fluoridation are not scientifically proven.”
Article originally appeared on the Bedford Independent
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