Dear Editor, It appears that the Health Secretary wants to see fluoride added to all drinking water in the UK. The Government is also talking about consultation. I hope that this is a sincere intention because fundamental issues are raised.
There is evidence (although it can be exaggerated) that fluoridation has some impact on dental health, especially amongst those who don't look after their teeth. Those who do may benefit less, and decay rates have been improving across countries whether they add fluoride or not. There is a downside in terms of fluorosis (mottled teeth) and some research suggests possible links to hip fractures and bladder cancer.
In Birmingham fluoride has been added since the 1960s. I do not recall having a choice in the matter. Certainly there is none now, since filters do not remove fluoride - a fact not often stated on the box. The fluoride issue is one example of population dosing, others being under consideration. I am concerned about this not simply on grounds of individual freedom (think also of the loss of same in our surveillance society) but also because, while health experts are usually right at least when they agree, when they are wrong the price can be very high indeed.
If there is a genuine debate (rather than the closely managed and selective 'consultation' we saw with hospital closures) then I for one would welcome this. But will those of us already fluoridated be given a choice? I somehow doubt it. As, I assume, we are not likely to have a referendum, then at least there should be a professional and independent opinion poll that would carry a measure of public trust.
Coun MICHAEL WILKES
Denied the promise of an EU referendum
Dear Editor, Stuart Stockdale tells us that the Liberal Democrats' change from proposing a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty to one on continued membership of the EU is a strengthening of their manifesto commitment (Post Agenda, February 5). I will not question your correspondent's sincerity in believing this. But he will have to accept that many of us see it as an utterly cynical manoeuvre, solely and deliberately carried out to ensure that the vote that we were promised, prior to the election, by both the Lib Dems and Labour, was denied us, while allowing the Lib Dems to use weasel words to try to justify their treachery.
Is there a single Lib Dem MP or supporter who would claim that there was ever the slightest chance that the Government would hold the referendum that the Lib Dem's switched to calling for?
I don't know which party is sadder. Labour have reneged on a manifesto commitment with regard to a crucial issue, and lied to us, in the full knowledge that we know they are lying. But, tragically, the Lib Dems have descended further than that bare-faced betrayal with their pusillanimous and futile attempt to avoid blame.
A small number of Labour MPs have courageously criticised their party's shameful behaviour. Are there any Lib Dem MPs with the integrity and moral courage to do likewise?
Come the next election we know that Labour may later go back on anything they say. And the Lib Dems may subsequently "strengthen" any of their proposals to the point of uselessness.
A wasted opportunity
Dear Editor, The plans for New Street station seem to represent a huge missed opportunity. The £400 million is all going to be spent on gloss and glitter, and nothing is to be done about the station's Achilles' heel: lack of track capacity .
When the work is complete, New Street will still be a cramped hole in the ground with dangerously narrow platforms and frequent train delays.
I cannot believe that the powers-that-be preferred this solution to the East Side one which offered all the space and light needed to build a decent station.
Like Millenium Point and the proposed new library, it looks like yet another case of putting style before substance. What a waste!