Daily Telegraph – 10 January 2009
As you report (January 2), ministers are awaiting the results of a public consultation by South Central Strategic Health Authority (SHA), which is considering adding fluoride to the drinking water in Southampton and South-West Hampshire. The problem with the SHA document is that its authors have their minds made up. Pros and cons are supposedly set out on pages 15 to 23. The first page-and-a-half sets out benefits without challenge. The next seven pages set out the objections – only to rebut them in each and every case.
The prize for partiality must go to Southampton City Primary Care Trust, which has evidently spent shedloads of public money producing and distributing one-sided propaganda. My favourite is the glossy postcard (with pre-paid first-class postage) for people to sign and send off to the SHA – despite the fact that the SHA says it will not be relying solely on the number of responses received.
We all know a flawed consultation when we see one. The Cabinet Office code of practice on consultations requires that “responses should be carefully and open-mindedly analysed”. Clearly this is not happening. As a local MP, I have formulated a detailed submission to the SHA. This is for the benefit of the people I represent, not the SHA – which I expect to ignore it.
(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA