The people of Bedford are still paying thousands of pounds a year towards the cost of water fluoridation schemes even though the process was suspended in September 2009.
Freedom of Information figures reveal that a 347,556 bill was sent to Bedford Borough Council for the financial year of 2013/14.
The hidden cost to taxpayers was brought to light by campaign group Fluoride Free Bedford, which raises awareness of the health dangers of fluorosilicic acid – the industrial waste by-product that water companies are required to purchase from Norwegian chemical giant, Yara International to fluoridate water.
Cynthia Bagchi Group spokesman Cynthia Bagchi said: “The contract to supply Bedford with fluorosilicic acid ends this year, and a new one between the water companies and Yara has to be signed in January to provide the quantity needed for next year. The council is supposed to give them a year’s notice to terminate the contract, and hopefully that’s been done. Otherwise it will be horrendous – we’ll be stuck with a new five-year contract.”
The process of adding fluoride to water, which aims to reduce the prevalence of dental decay, ceased in Bedford Borough in September 2009 to allow works to refurbish the borough’s fluoridation plant.
Some studies link fluoride in tap water to health problems.
A spokesman for Bedford Borough Council said £347,556 bill was for ongoing maintenance of equipment.
He said: “Bedford Borough Council no longer introduces fluoride into the water supply and no agreement has been reached by the local authorities covered by the scheme to re-introduce fluoridation.”
Cllr Louise Jackson, portfolio holder of public health, said: “I want to be absolutely clear, we have not paid a single penny to introduce fluoride to the water supply of any resident in Bedford Borough”.