CURRENT THREATS: REPORT FROM THE UK FREEDOM FROM FLUORIDE ALLIANCE (6th August 2017)
Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire is threatened with fluoridation. We’re waiting for the results of a second feasibility report which has been commissioned from Yorkshire Water before gathering our forces if the scheme proves to be feasible. However, there is the small consideration of the cost of the fluoridation programme and financial data from Public Health England tells us that the cost of WF is annually on the increase at more than the rise in inflation. Can Hull City Council really afford a long-term financial commitment of 20 years on a pie-in-the-sky medical fashion which has passed its use-by-date? (Once fluoridation equipment is installed the issue cannot be revisited for 20 years in accordance with the Water Industries Act 1991 (as amended).
There was a Water Fluoridation Conversation meeting at the University of Hull at 1pm on 2nd April. Hull For Pure Water was on hand with a list of questions which can be asked of the all-pro-fluoridation panel
There have been slight fluoridation flutters in Nottingham and in Barnsley but since WF has not appeared on any recent agendas of the Health and Well-Being Boards, they will probably come to nothing.
Our current focus is on West Cumbria and on Lincolnshire:
In West Cumbria, there has been a hiatus relating to the quality of treated water from Ennerdale Water Treatment Works. Blending of raw water is now normal in England in order to eke out supplies of surface water. However, in Cumbria, the blending is taking place in order to preserve adequate levels of Ennerdale Reservoir water for the conservation of fresh water mussels. The new water comes from 5 boreholes in and around the village of Egremont. The boreholes are sunk 40-50ft into the sandstone aquifer. Residents have been complaining about stomach upsets, sore mouths, etc. The Drinking Water Inspectorate is investigating. We have sent a Freedom of Information request to the DWI and await a reply.
In Lincolnshire, we’ve been turning over a few stones and have found that the WF public consultation in 2006/2007 may never have taken place. There is nothing in the public record to show any results or meetings on the proposal to consult. However, the Chief Public Health England Dental Consultant seems to think that it did take place and has advised Lincs County Council Health and Well-Being Board that since the consultation took place in 2008, that the issue cannot be revisited until 2028 in accordance with the 20-years’ rule.
This interpretation is erroneous since the 20-years’ rule was only made law after the enactment of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. It’s highly unlikely that the law can be backdated without there being a specific clause in the Act enabling this to happen.
We’ve written twice to the Council’s Health and Well-Being Board and are still waiting for an acknowledgement and reply. In order to give us a full answer to all our questions, someone in the Council House has to go scrabbling about in the archives for proof that the Consultation actually took place in 2006/7/8. It’s only 10 years ago. Surely, if there had been a County-wide public consultation, someone, somewhere in the Council would have remembered it particularly since some of the current staff of Lincs Public Health England team would have been employed by the now defunct PCT and SHA who initially proposed a consultation.
West Midlands: the region is firmly locked into WF. We’re working on two strategies at the moment and will apply them as soon as the time is ripe to do so. Can’t divulge any details at the moment.
Bedford and Bedfordshire: Bedford Council is still firmly against reinstating WF. However, they’ve hit a slight snag. In order to propose to the Secretary of State for Health that fluoridation should cease, they have to go through a scoping exercise. Bedford’s Public Health England team is currently engaged in writing this scoping exercise. Once this is submitted to the Department of Health, and if the Sec. of State approves the Council’s proposal not to reinstate WF, the residents of Bedford need to be consulted in a 3-month consultation exercise. Thus, we’re into a waiting game. Bedfordshire County Council appears to be accepting of Bedford’s proposal not to reinstate WF so this is not seen to be a problem. The problem lies with the wording which will be used by PHE in the scoping exercise since PHE is firmly in favour of WF despite there being no proof that dental decay worsened in the Borough in the years after WF ceased for technical reasons in 2009.
Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire:
During November 2016, Hull City Council’s Executive Cabinet was asked to approve expenditure on an engineering feasibility study.
Paddy Holdsworth, John Pickles and other campaigners from Hull, supported by Joy Warren, attended both the Health and Well Being Board and a full Council meeting. There was little opportunity to intervene or question the process, and the Council’s overall Labour majority had already decided to agree to the feasibility study. We learned this week that Hull’s Public Health budget is being used to commission a full engineering feasibility study. Thus Hull City Council has embarked on the next step of the programme to push fluoridation on Hull and the East Riding.
Our hope is that the water company may, for whatever reason, delay their reply until the next election when there could be a change in the make-up of the Council.
Joy Warren has linked up with the Lib Dems and has discussed the issue with Mike Ross (Lib Dem Leader) following the Full Council Meeting in 2016 when the Labour Group voted to pursue WF.
Paddy Holdsworth, who lives in the East Riding, says that “The East Riding potentially has 87K people who may become fluoridated whilst Hull potentially has 345K. This means that the East Riding is responsible for 25% of the potential scheme with Hull responsible for 75%
Costs are projected to be far higher than in previous years. £2million capital cost and 330K annual revenue costs. That makes the East Riding responsible for finding £500K capital costs and £82.5K annual revenue costs. Hull would have to fork out £1.5m capital costs and £247.5K annual revenue costs. However, PHE has now undertaken to pay the capital costs.
Regarding the ongoing revenue costs, continuing reductions to public-sector funding would probably mean that other Council activities would need to cease or reduce in order to release the necessary funding. This means that revenue costs are not going to be paid from a ring-fenced health budget. Instead, Council Tax is going to be used fluoridate Hull. This is the weakness of the proposal and will bring Hullites out in their droves (I hope).”
Since most of the water goes down the drain without being drunk, most of the money spent on the acid and maintenance would be wasted. It can also be argued that capital costs are wasted: why spend all that money on fluoridation equipment when so little of the fluoride is swallowed?
A particularly tenacious Dental Public Health Consultant attached to Public Health England (Anita Dobson), considers that fluoridation is the answer to a maiden’s prayer.
However, on 4th October 2016, the Health and Well Being Board state the following: “In relation to water fluoridation, the meeting noted the complicated process in achieving this, not least because it was difficult to isolate Barnsley’s water supply from surrounding areas. It was therefore important that this not be progressed unless the position of neighbouring local authorities was clear.” In fact both Wakefield and Rotherham to the north and south of Barnsley have decided against fluoridation and since they are the nearest local authorities to Barnsley it seems unlikely that further efforts will be made by Anita Dobson to progress fluoridation until after Wakefield examines the issue again in 2018. In the meantime, we are collating all research which will convince Wakefield that the case in favour of fluoridation has not been proven.
During November, MP Graham Allen, rather precipitously issued a Press Release in which he urges Nottingham City Council to consider water fluoridation ‘As part of efforts to improve the ‘Victorian’ conditions of children’s teeth.’
This seems like the beginning of a campaign here. The article has the local MP mentioning Hull and bemoaning the North Nottingham five-year-olds who need surgery on their mouth (which does, of course, have nothing whatsoever to do with fluoride or the lack of it). ). As soon as it became apparent that the MP wanted Nottingham City Council to consider water fluoridation, Joy Warren shot off an email to him and to the Chair of the Health and Well-Being Board. Nothing further has been heard of the MP’s wish to get Nottingham fluoridated. Also, in the last few days we have learned that Graham Allen is in communication with The Teeth Team which is tackling dental decay amongst disadvantaged children in the City and it may be that fluoridation is somewhere over the horizon at this time. None-the-less, it’s disquieting to have had this pro-fluoridation MP nibbling away in Nottingham whilst our focus ought to be on Hull and the East Riding.
In 2016, The Overview and Scrutiny Committee decided to postpone consideration of WF until 2018 when the Committee will be pleased to review any research on WF which has been published since 2014. We realise that PHE’s 2nd Health Monitoring Report will be due in 2018 and this will be reviewed by the Committee as well. We have little faith in the veracity of the 2014 Health Monitoring Report since too many relevant aspects of WF were swept under the carpet. Indeed only those issues which PHE cherry-picked were included.
Councillors from Cumbria County Council will delay making a decision on water fluoridation until the findings of a study have been revealed.
Members of the council’s cabinet claim that they need more information about the impact of fluoridation on a local scale before they make a decision on the future of fluoridation in the area.
In September, a petition, which urged councillors to debate the possibility of removing fluoride from community water supplies, was presented to Allerdale Local Committee, and the council referred to the matter to the cabinet.
Before the cabinet made a decision, members were encouraged by the director of public health to wait for the findings of a study known as Catfish to be released. The Catfish study (Cumbrian Assessment of Teeth, a Fluoride Intervention Study for Health) aims to provide information about the impact of a recent break in fluoridation on children’s dental health
This begs the question: if the science was settled about fluoridation, then there wouldn’t be the need to undertake this type of study where the health and intelligence of children in West Cumbria is being sacrificed.
Campaign group Fluoride Free Bedford have battled against fluoridation since 2002, creating their own documentary ‘Toxic tap water’ and petitioning Bedford Borough Council.
Last week [ reported Bedford Today on September 6th] Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson said at an executive council meeting: “Fluoride will not go [back] into the water’ …His comments follow a unanimous vote by councillors on July 20 to end water fluoridation in the borough.
Subsequently, Jeremy Hunt has refused permission for Bedford Borough Council to break its contract with Industrial Chemicals Group Limited (the new supplier of the fluoridating acid) so Bedford is now forced to go out to Public Consultation.
The flagship of water fluoridation has been dealt a resounding shot across the bows. Apparently, “Thousands of Brummie kids are having lots of teeth extracted in hospital. The numbers have increased SEVENFOLD since 2010/11, when there were 208 hospital admissions for tooth extraction.” So much for reducing dental health inequalities across social groups. Pro-fluoridationists in Birmingham are dwelling in a surrealistic bubble of their own making. Yes – the statistics need to be analysed since we can’t depend on newspaper reporters interpreting the data correctly but, this is what we’ve been saying all along – that fluoride when swallowed does not reduce dental decay. In fact the British Fluoridation Society has up until recently declared systemic fluoride as being a minor mechanism.