4 Sep 2014

Anti fluoridation group gives up fight

6:38 am on 4 September 2014

There is relief from the Hamilton City Council that an anti-fluoridation group has given up its fight for a judicial review of a decision to put fluoride back into the town water supply.

The council stopped adding fluoride to the water supply in June last year but decided to bring it back after a referendum last October overwhelmingly backed its return.

That led to a battle in the High Court by the anti-fluoride group Safe Water Alternative New Zealand, which it lost in June and fluoride has been back in drinking water, since July.

Fluoride in drinking water has been a contentious issue throughout parts of the country.

The Hamilton City Council said it spent over $50,000 preparing its defence for the judicial hearing that was initially set for next week.

Council general manager of performance Blair Bowcott said he was glad the saga was over.

"It's a relief to have some certainty in terms of the the fluoride decision for the city.

"But we were confident in our defence for the upcoming court case," he said.

A review by a panel of leading scientists, commissioned by the Prime Minister's chief scientist Sir Peter Gluckman, concluded last month that fluoride created no health risks and provided protection against tooth decay.

It said claims fluoride had adverse health affects were not supported by scientific evidence.

About half of all councils put fluoride in their water, and the review made clear that they could be confident it was safe.

Safe Water Alternative New Zealand co-ordinator Trevor Crosbie said they had not changed their stance but were abandoning their crusade for financial reasons.

"We got to a point where we realised that we would have to spend a lot more money going through the judicial review process and would have to keeping tapping on our members and supporters for that.

"The council don't have to do that, they can just tapping into the pockets of the ratepayers," he said.

Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Felicity Dumble has long argued for fluoridation of water and said the decision was a victory for the city council.

"Fluoridation started in Hamilton in 1966 and that decision has been revisited several times.

"Hopefully councils throughout the country will take on board that their is strong community support as well as the vast majority of dentists and doctors supporting the safety and efficacy of fluoridation," she said.

Safer Water Alternative New Zealand said it asked the city council to set up at least two filling stations providing unfluoridated water to the public but that request was turned down.

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