Opinions fly in fluoride chat

By Patrick O'Sullivan

The discussion on fluoridation was held at the Hastings District Council chambers and was adjudicated by Napier lawyer Jonathan Krebs. Photo / Glenn Taylor
The discussion on fluoridation was held at the Hastings District Council chambers and was adjudicated by Napier lawyer Jonathan Krebs. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Residents in attendance at a fluoridation meeting held by the Hastings District Council last night heard a flurry of figures from both sides of the debate.

Both anti-fluoride campaigners and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board representatives were in attendance to discuss the controversial issue.

The anti-fluoridation side sought to undermine the efficacy of fluoridation of the water supply, which they see as causing a poisoning of the wider population.

Hastings has had fluoridation since 1954 and Fluoride Free Hastings spokeswoman Angela Hair said the Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) should be actively testing for fluoride poisoning.

The DHB said there was no need.

Waipukurau dentist John Jukes said his own dental association was "dragging the chain" by endorsing fluoridation.

In conclusion lawyer and adjudicator Jonathan Krebs said science did play a part in the issue but it was also a freedom of choice issue, and social responsibility.

"The greatest good for the greatest number."

Meanwhile, an anti-fluoride campaigner has threatened to damage DHB water fluoridation signs.

Hastings District is currently voting on a binding referendum on whether to continue the fluoridation of its water and the DHB has spent $55,000 in a campaign to keep the status quo.

The DHB and the anti-fluoridation lobby clashed two weeks ago at the Havelock North Community Centre where chief executive Dr Kevin Snee robustly stomped on Fluoride Free Hastings placards.

Wellington-based Mark Atkin wrote to the DHB asking for Dr Snee's resignation for "the act of wilful damage perpetrated by Dr Snee".

DHB acting chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana responded saying the sign removal was fair and reasonable. In a statement to media, he said Dr Snee had the unanimous support of the board and he was passionate.

Mr Atkin said his group was also passionate.

"On that basis, I take your letter as permission for us to wilfully damage your signs," he said. "Unless you have a problem with that, and advise that you wish to apply a double standard on this point by 5pm Wednesday 25 September 2013, your silence will constitute acquiescence to us damaging your signs as we see fit. In that case I will forward a copy of this letter and a sworn affidavit of non-receipt of a response to the Hastings Police with a Claim of Right to damage your signs."

The DHB replied through its solicitor.

Fluoride Free Hastings said they had complained to police about sign damage. Hawke's Bay Today understands police found no evidence of wilful damage.

At least eight DHB pro-fluoridation hoardings were damaged prior to Mr Atkin's threat, all with a spray can.

A Fluoride Free Hastings newsletter asked members to refrain from the practice. "I need to remind everyone please DO NOT deface DHB signs in any way," the newsletter said. "This is not the time for creative expression with a spray can."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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