The re-introduction of fluoride to Bedford’s water supply was up for debate by borough councillors last night
At Wednesday’s full council meeting, members discussed a petition from campaign group End Fluoride in Beds (End FIB), which believes adding fluoride to water endangers public health.
In its documents, End FIB claims there is little evidence fluoride prevents tooth decay but it does have detrimental effects on brain and thyroid function, increases the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and harms babies.
End FIB leader Cynthia Bagchi said the campaign is well supported in Bedford.
She said: “We needed just 30 signatures to submit our petition. We got 271 and could have had many more.
“We had a stall at the River Festival in summer where people willingly signed up, they didn’t need convincing.”
Fluoridation has been suspended in Bedford for the past five years while equipment at the Manton Lane reservoir near Clapham is upgraded.
Authorisation for adding the chemical lies with local authorities, not Anglian Water, which operates the reservoir.
When the work is completed in 2015, fluoridation could resume.
Harrold Ward Councillor Alison Foster backs the group. She said: “I don’t think the evidence stacks up for putting it in. In countries where they don’t add fluoride, the children’s dental health is OK.
“We hope to persuade the mayor to end the fluoridation contract.”
In the meantime, the council’s Adult Services and Health Overview Scrutiny Committee has agreed to investigate both sides of the argument.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “Clearly this is a very important issue, with strongly-held views.
“Now the council has the ability, alongside Central Bedfordshire Council, to request that it be stopped, it is right it should be considered thoroughly.
“That’s why I am pleased an all-party committee of the council will be doing just that, hearing evidence in public and producing recommendations.”
He added: “I look forward to following their review and to the recommendations they produce.”
End FIB was due to film the debate for a documentary it is making about the campaign.