Pair want city back on fluoride

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 26/08/2014

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Councillors are calling for fluoride to be put back in New Plymouth's water supply after a report by scientists ruled there were no health risks associated with the chemical.

Councillors Gordon Brown and Richard Handley have spoken out against the previous council's 2011 decision to remove fluoride from the district's water supply.

However, New Plymouth's Mayor Andrew Judd has said the contentious issue should be settled once and for all by central government.

But Brown said the council had the power to deal with the issue and should face up and do so.

Since being elected in October last year he had been pushing for fluoride to be back in the town's water, he said.

"I know this is a controversial issue, but you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs," he said.

The review was commissioned by Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser, and Royal Society of New Zealand president Sir David Skegg at the request of Auckland Council.

"The Gluckman report totally made it clear there is no problem with fluoride and if I had my way it would be back in tomorrow," Brown said.

Handley said he had always been pro-fluoride and would support its return.

"Even when we lived in places with no fluoride we had fluoride tablets for the children," he said.

"There is no doubt that my children have fewer fillings than I do."

However, fellow councillor Shaun Biesiek was downright against the reintroduction of fluoride.

"Producing a report does not give you enough weight because what will happen is someone else will produce a report saying otherwise," Biesiek said.

"And I would like to know how they got their evidence, because in 2011 when we made the decision, there was no evidence either way.

"The local district health board failed in its submission to convince even one councillor, and 100 per cent of the council voted to remove it."

Mayor Judd said Local Government New Zealand had put forward a submission asking the government to decide for the country.

"I support that," he said.

"The professionals should ultimately decide."

Yesterday South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop was full of praise for the report.

In 2012 the South Taranaki District Council voted 10-3 to introduce fluoride in the Patea and Waverley water supply.

The decision was contested in court, but the council was found to be within its legal rights to fluoridate the water.

"This information from the most qualified medical people in the land gives us confidence that the decision to increase where we fluoridate was the correct one," Dunlop said.

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"And in light of this new information, those opposed to fluoride need to really ask themselves if they are acting in the best interests of everyone, especially our children."

- Taranaki Daily News

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