Birmingham – together with only 10% of the UK’s population – accepted the expense of adding fluoride to its water supplies in 1964. Scientific research gives cause for concern on several counts.

Though apologists stress that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, tea and fish they are economical with the truth: the supplement in water delivered by Severn Trent is one of eleven industrial chemicals now classified as developmental neurotoxins, according to research published in the Lancet.

peter mansfieldSome readers reacted strongly last year after seeing our reference to Birmingham council’s eulogy of fluoridation – one was Dr Peter Mansfield, who has done research on this issue in the city and took part in the York Review, which figures in the reports by Earl Baldwin and Professor KK Cheng.

Prevalence of hypothyroidism in the West Midlands

Earlier this year, the press picked up the news in the British Medical Journal of research, published in the Journal of Epidemiological & Community Health, which found that medical practices located in the West Midlands (a wholly fluoridated area) are nearly twice as likely to report the prevalence of hypothyroidism in comparison with Greater Manchester (non-fluoridated area).

Lead author Professor Stephen Peckham, from the Centre for Health Service Studies (University of Kent), said: “The finding of this cross-sectional study has important implications for public health policy in the UK and in other countries where fluoride is added to drinking water or in other forms such as fluoridated milk and salt”.

An article on the University of Kent website had the title: ‘Stop water fluoridation’

The findings of the study raised particular concerns about the validity of community fluoridation as a safe public health measure. It may be read here.

david robert grimesDr David Grimes of Gray Labs then swung into action with one of his science ‘opinion pieces’, though his area of expertise is oncology.

It may be read, for a price, and his work has been honoured by ‘Sense in Society’ – at best a suspect organisation according to now MP Zac Goldsmithfunded by a wide range of wealthy organisations and companies with varying related vested interests.

earl baldwinAn earlier Critique of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health Inquiry into Water Fluoridation, by cross-bench peer Edward Baldwin, expresses the concern felt by the highly regarded Professor K K Cheng (epidemiology, Public Health Building, University of Birmingham) and colleagues.

It is good to note that Baldwin’s work on this issue continues – latest from Hansard:

earl baldwin 2 bewdley text

prof cheng 2Professor K K Cheng and two colleagues – Iain Chalmers (editor, James Lind Library, Oxford) and Trevor A Sheldon (professor and pro-vice chancellor, Health Services Research, University of York) are concerned about the way that evidence about the benefits of a fluoridated water supply is harnessed and uncertainties glossed over, which makes it hard for the public and professionals to participate in consultations on an informed basis.

Their 2007 paper was published on the site of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Fluoridation (APPGAF); registration ceased when the 2010 general election was called but now steps are being taken to establish a new group – details available on the website in due course.

They highlight the problems that should be confronted in such consultations, emphasise the considerable uncertainties in the evidence and open by referring to the York review: “Given the certainty with which water fluoridation has been promoted and opposed, and the large number (around 3200) of research papers identified, the reviewers were surprised by the poor quality of the evidence and the uncertainty surrounding the beneficial and adverse effects of fluoridation”.

And later: “the Department of Health’s objectivity is questionable—it funded the British Fluoridation Society, and along with many other supporters of fluoridation it used the York review’s findings selectively to give an overoptimistic assessment of the evidence in favour of fluoridation”.

The report points out that that for some common clinical interventions, patients can weigh potential benefits and risks before agreeing to treatments but, “In the case of fluoridation, people should be aware of the limitations of evidence about its potential harms and that it would be almost impossible to detect small but important risks (especially for chronic conditions) after introducing fluoridation.

It contends that fluoride appears to comply with the legal definition of a medicinal product in the European Union (Codified Pharmaceutical Directive 2004/27/EC, Article 1.2), adding that in 1983 a British judge, Lord Jauncey, ruled that fluoridated water falls within that definition. He refers to the Medicines Act 1968: “Section 130 defines ‘medicinal product’ and I am satisfied that fluoride in whatever form it is ultimately purchased by the respondents falls within that definition.”

The report then makes these points:

  • If fluoride is a medicine, evidence of its effects should be subject to the standards of proof expected of drugs, including evidence from randomised trials. (There have been no randomised trials of water fluoridation).
  • If used as a mass preventive measure in well people, the evidence of net benefit should be greater than that needed for drugs to treat illness.
  • An important distinction also exists between removing unnatural exposures (such as environmental tobacco smoke) and adding unnatural exposures (such as drugs or preservatives).
  • In the second situation, evidence on benefit and safety must be more stringent.

They note that in some countries water fluoridation schemes have been withdrawn. Fluoridation is forbidden in Holland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, while many other countries, including France, Belgium, Norway, Germany, Austria and Japan, do not fluoridate their water.

On August 26, 2014, Israel officially stopped adding fluoride to its water supplies, some medical and water experts having insisted that fluoride is, in essence, a toxic substance that causes other health problems, including kidney damage and bone weakness. The Times of Israel reported that the Health Minister strongly defended her position in a letter to a medical group, writing that ‘doctors have told me that fluoridation may harm pregnant women, people with thyroid problems and the elderly’.


When will the West Midlands observe the precautionary principle and follow suit?

On Thursday 15 Oct. 5-7 pm new economics meeting

WMNEG logo

Open meeting

BFOE warehouse

FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

The plan is to have a discussion of Corbynomics now that we know more about the policies up for discussion.

This is not our usual Saturday morning event – bit of an experiment.

jc economy 2 report cover

The Economy In 2020_Jeremy Corbyn

Other reports include those listed on the Watershed website

Peter Walker, Chairman of the thriving Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, has forwarded a notice from Tom French of Community On Board:

time banking 2 poster

Those who want to know more about the background of the Time Bank movement may see a summary on Localise West Midlands’ website.

Direct link:

Birmingham based Professor Rex Harris writes:

Today I am 76 and I thought I should take this opportunity to reflect on the state of my beloved Labour Party and hopefully demonstrate that the present “doom and gloom” surrounding the party is, in my view, totally unjustified.

Although society has made enormous strides in technology and science we are still living under a very regressive political system. Thus we still have the primitive “first pass the post” electoral system whereby, with just 38% of the vote, the Tories have been re-elected for another depressing 5 years during which time the gap between rich and poor will become even wider.

Lack of scientific expertise in Parliament

The cabinet is still predominantly ex-public school and male and in the composition of the new parliament of around 650 MPs, only a very tiny minority will have any significant scientific/engineering background and hence technical knowledge. I believe that in the last parliament there was only one science-based PhD and, in the current batch the picture is probably even worse.

This critical absence of technical expertise is, to my mind, extremely worrying as the quality of the future will be dependent on implementing long term, technically-based measures determined by the overwhelming need to reduce carbon.

The mammoths in the room are climate change and resource depletion and yet these topics received barely a mention in the debates leading up to the 2015 general election. These and related areas will determine, not only the future shape of the Labour party   but that of the whole world and these should be the dominant themes in the current and future debates.

When asked to define the most challenging aspect of his political life, Harold McMillan stated:

                                     ” Events dear boy, events”

This was a very wise statement and with the increasing manifestation of climate change in the UK as well as throughout the world, related events will become ever-more predominant in political life. The difficult, if not impossible task, is to predict the exact time it will take for the reality of climate change and resource depletion to have a significant impact on the electorate.

Currently, I believe we are all living in a “fools’ paradise”

The stark reality is that our present consumer driven economic system cannot provide the necessary long term solutions to these problems and this is why the Labour party must not seek short-term political gain by trying to emulate our existing system which seems to be based predominantly on the motivating force of personal greed.

The necessary changes cannot be achieved by short-term tinkering with the existing system

The majority realisation that there has to be a radical change could come in the next 5 years or it might take longer, but come it will.

In the meantime the Labour party, along with other like-minded groups, has to formulate detailed root and branch policies to provide a workable alternative to the present unsustainable system which is based on the growing consumption of ever diminishing raw materials and evermore carbon-based energy.

The Labour Party must provide the blueprint for a sustainable future and the sooner it sets its mind to this objective the better.

It might be useful to consider what could be some of the political priorities (in no particular order):

  • Introduce a system of proportional representation and real federalisation within the UK.
  • Increase substantially the proportion of female Labour candidates.
  • Try and increase the proportion of candidates with a scientific/engineering background. Aim for engineers and scientists to be “on top” not just “on-tap”.
  • Develop a series of independent technical workshops to inform MPs and other policy makers of the technical challenges that lie ahead.
  • Set-up a parliamentary group to investigate comprehensively the impacts of climate change and resource depletion. For instance, to develop a full-scale recycling strategy
  • Look to build a purpose-built parliament building in the Midlands and convert the existing parliament buildings into tourist attractions.
  • Strengthen and expand the concept of a “Green Bank” to fund new businesses based of sustainable technologies.
  • Electrify all urban transportation and develop battery recycling technologies.
  • Strengthen and develop EC and other international ties.

These are just some of the many priorities that Labour will have to address, analyse and then formulate workable solutions. A far cry from today’s often trivial and somewhat irrelevant arguments


Date: Monday, 27 July, 2015, 16:03

madin library ziggurat‘Library Story’ will be an illustrated 200-page book about Birmingham’s 1970s Central Library and the campaign of the Friends of the Central Library to save it from premature demolition.

The book has been written by Alan Clawley, edited by Hazel Clawley and designed by Ian Cuthbert. All have given their time voluntarily and without charge.

For publication to go ahead Friends of the Central Library needs to raise £1,500 by public subscription to pay for its printing and distribution of 100 copies.

Should the target of £1,500 not be reached all contributions will be returned to the donors.

Contributions of any amount are welcome but anyone donating £15 or more will be entitled to receive a copy of the book.


  • To subscribe in the traditional way just send a cheque made out to ‘Friends of the Central Library’ to

Iqbal Basi, 23 Watson Road, Woodcross, Bilston, West Midlands WV14 9RY

  • To make an electronic transfer direct to the Unity Trust bank account of Friends of the Central Library first phone Iqbal Basi for the account details on 0790 604 1815

Alan Clawley, Secretary, Friends of the Central Library, 26 Taywood Drive, Birmingham B10 0DB, 0121 772 716,


air2 quality header

After sharing an article about air pollution, this notice was received:

Places are now available at this year’s National Air Quality Conference with a top line up of speakers including officials from Defra and the Scottish Government.

The event is run by in partnership this year with PTEG, the Passenger Transport Executive Group and will be held at The Studio in the centre of Birmingham: Caxton Gate, 14 Cannon St, Birmingham B2 5EP.

With air quality increasingly an issue within the UK whether concerning transport or industrial emissions or other issues such as dust, the conference provides a unique opportunity to get fully up-to-date on topics, to network and to get your questions answered.

In the light of recent events this workshop will be of particular interest:

diesel 2text

For the agenda and cost, go to:


Some time ago this site reported an invitation to invest in the Community Energy Birmingham co-operatives share offer in order to fund the installation of solar photovoltaic arrays on community buildings in Moseley and Small Heath, Birmingham.

The solar panels generate clean and cheap, renewable electricity which is provided at a generous discount to the host buildings. The surplus is then exported into the local grid. Community Energy Birmingham earns revenue from the Feed-in-Tariff payable on all the electricity generated, as well as from the sale of the electricity to the host organisation. This will enable the repayment of the cost of the installations and provide a fair rate of return to investors.

CEB now has most of the investment sought for the solar roofs, £50,000 towards its £65,000 target which will see four sets of sunlight catching panels fitted to the Moseley Exchange , a creative workshop space, and the Ackers Adventure centre in Small Heath.

The deadline has now been extended to 2nd October, see the article in the Birmingham Post about Community Energy Birmingham, which is hoping to raise the last £15,000 from local investors to get three solar roofs installed on community buildings in time to beat the government’s planned cut to the Feed in Tariff rates.

Below is the link to the Share Offer Document:


butterfly header

The Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network (CYEN), a UK-registered charity, which supports the Butterfly Project in Uganda, is to hold its annual Slum Run on Sunday 27th September at 2pm in Birmingham.

The sponsored run is over 10km in Small Heath, starting at Small Heath Baptist Church. The money raised through sponsorship of the participants will be used to enable slum children, living in Kampala, Uganda, to attend school. At present, these children are so poor that they have to work in a dangerous quarry, breaking up rocks, in order to earn a few shillings to buy food.

slum run uganda

The run in Birmingham, UK, takes place on the same day as a 10km run around the slums in Kampala. Children chosen to do the Kampala run are the ones who will benefit from the Birmingham run, which will enable them to attend school. Read more about the work here:

slum run uganda 2014

The Birmingham event is run in collaboration with the Boys Brigade, who took the top two winning places last year. Above: some of those who took part in 2014.


Anybody interested in doing the run in Small Heath, Birmingham, should contact Christine on 07981 550474. Those wishing to sponsor, or make a donation for the work, can do so through the following website: All monies will go to support the children in Uganda.

Several sites are reporting that a ‘zero-emissions’ hydrogen filling station has opened in Rotherham.

hydrogen flling rotherham

A zero-emissions refuelling station for hydrogen-powered cars – claimed to be the first of its kind in the country – has been built by ITM Power at the Advanced Manufacturing Park near the M1 in Rotherham.

The headquarters of AIM listed ITM Power, founded in 2001, are in Sheffield. The company, which employs about 70 people in South Yorkshire, specializes in electrolysers, and hydrogen fuel cell products.

The refuelling station uses electricity generated by a wind turbine to split water into its constituent parts: hydrogen and oxygen and emits only water vapour.

A hydrogen car could now fill up with enough fuel for it to reach London from South Yorkshire, the company said. Refuelling takes a few minutes and a full tank gives a range of 250-300 miles.

Two more refuelling stations are planned for London. And though there are only around 20 hydrogen-powered cars on the UK, new models are being launched by major manufacturers.

Total green audit: as fossil fuels are not used in the production process, ITM Power points out that it is the first to be carbon-neutral with zero emissions.

A recent article by Richard Lutz in the Birmingham Press opened: “The Prime Minister will have to have change his upper class bully boy tactics once he faces new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

As Lutz recounted: “PMQs is hardly polite. In fact, it is so red in tooth and claw that the Speaker had to recently warn baying Parliamentarians to calm down as some of the more demure MPs said it just wasn’t worth showing up any more . . . but with the chance to perform for TV, it has become more and more nasty, personal, vindictive and, ultimately, void of any real content”. He referred to Cameron: “braying personalised attacks at those sitting across the House from him”.

Watching PMQs today – recorded here.

jc magisterial pmq first

Elderly readers of the Times who have been voicing concerns about his appearance will be reassured by the fact that he was wearing a tie – a concern which also seems to loom large in the mainstream press.

Corbyn, with considerable gravitas, opened – to Labour applause and opposition silence – by referring to the public’s perception that conduct in ‘this place’ is too theatrical and out of touch. He remembered welcoming Cameron’s 2005 promise to end the “Punch and Judy” politics of PMQs, sadly unfulfilled . . .


Conservative bloomer, surely?

Julian Knight (MP for Solihull) stressed the importance of Britain having an independent nuclear deterrent – which actually does not exist, as many point out, Alex Thomson for one: our “independent” Trident missiles in reality come from Lockheed Martin in the US and are maintained by the US Navy. So we are being asked to spend around  £100bn to maintain and replace an “independent” nuclear strike capability – which does not exist. David Morrison adds: “If Britain doesn’t maintain friendly relations with the US, then it won’t have a functional nuclear weapons system, despite having spent billions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money on it – because the US would simply cease providing Britain with serviceable Trident missiles”.


Lutz was right on target:

david cameron pmqCameron did ‘play it cool’, not going for ‘the teenage nastiness that has sadly stained the current level of PMQ debate in the last years’.

He did stick to answering questions and for the time being he appeared to be “growing up”.

And my neighbour said drily, ”Only another 25,000 questions to go.”

Full account in Political Concern


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