Council tribunal to make fluoride call

A decision on the continuation of water fluoridation in Hamilton will be made in May.

Hamilton City Council has agreed to establish a "tribunal-style" hearing to make a determination on whether fluoride should continue to be in the city's water supply.

Council staff presented eight options for decision-making on the issue including informal feedback via surveys and the citizens' panel, a binding referendum and a tribunal approach similar to the one held by New Plymouth District Council.

The most expensive option was the referendum and the least expensive was an informal approach, such as an online poll.

The tribunal approach, when managed alongside an existing consultation process such as the Annual Plan, was anticipated to cost around $5000 and expected to deliver the most robust outcome.

Members of the public who spoke at the open forum section of a recent committee meeting also generally supported a tribunal approach.

What is a tribunal?

The issue is formally advertised (in February).

Submissions are called for and people have a month to submit - (March).

Those in support of fluoridation and those against are then invited to each form groups.

The two groups then gather evidence over about six weeks and present their combined cases to the council (each group determines the number of speakers and style of presentation) in a hearings-type environment at which elected members can ask questions.

Following the questions each side summarises.

If people don't wish to be part of a primary group (for or against) they can still be heard as an individual.

The council [tribunal] then deliberates on the evidence and presentations and makes a decision.

Some resourcing and co-ordination support will be provided to the groups by council staff.

- Hamilton News

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