James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Mayor: Govt needs to rule on fluoride

Frustrations simmer in Hamilton after council defers water decision to hear review outcome

Julie Hardaker is firm that fluoridation should be a central government issue. Photo / Christine Cornege
Julie Hardaker is firm that fluoridation should be a central government issue. Photo / Christine Cornege

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker says people are over the fluoridation issue and just want decisions made about their drinking water.

Ms Hardaker made the comments after Hamilton City councillors deferred their decision yesterday over whether the city would restart fluoridating its water supply.

The council voted seven to five to defer its decision pending the outcome of a High Court judicial review that is looking into whether the South Taranaki District Council has the statutory right to fluoridate water supplies in Waverley and Patea.

"We spent the last couple of weeks getting legal advice and talking about court cases in Taranaki and I came here to make a decision," said Ms Hardaker.

"To be frank I think people are over it, we've had a year of it and people want a final decision made."

Ms Hardaker reiterated her stance that fluoridation should be a central government issue.

"That is the fact of the matter, that is the reality of it all and until central government takes a stand on this issue local authorities are going to continue and continue to have to go through these processes," she said.

The council's lawyer said before yesterday's vote that there was no legal obligation to delay their vote.

On Tuesday at the High Court in New Plymouth Justice Hansen reserved his decision. His ruling could be subject to further appeals - meaning an even longer delay of possibly up to a year for Hamiltonians.

"The most prudent action for this council is to defer its action until that decision has been made," said Councillor Margaret Forsyth.

Councillors were also asked to consider whether the city should recommence fluoridating the water supply while providing a non-fluoridated water source.

Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Felicity Dumble said the decision was frustrating and disappointing.

"One of our frustrations is the longer they delay the more time we don't have fluoridation in our drinking water and therefore oral health will deteriorate and also inequalities will increase."

At council hearings on fluoridation earlier this year, only 11 per cent of the 1557 submissions wanted to retain fluoride, while 89 per cent wanted it scrapped.

However, nearly 70 per cent of Hamilton voters favoured water fluoridation in a non-binding referendum held alongside local body elections last month.

- NZ Herald

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