A beneficial aide to preventing tooth decay, or mass medication – both sides of the fluoridation debate will get their day in court this week.
A Hamilton City Council tribunal considering whether or not to keep fluoridating the city’s water supply begins four days of hearings today. The council voted in December to establish the “tribunal style” hearing to determine whether fluoride should continue to be put in the city’s water supply.
Those in support and those against were invited to form groups to present their combined cases to the council in a hearings-type environment, where elected members can ask questions.
Hamilton is one of 23 councils, out of a total of 67, that fluoridates its water supplies.
A total of 1567 submissions were received by the council, with 1392 saying they wanted fluoridation stopped.
One-hundred-and-thirty-seven people have asked to speak to their submission.
Not all councillors will be there to hear the arguments.
West ward councillor John Gower said he believed he had compromised himself by revealing a bias on the issue and did not think it would be appropriate to remain in judgment.
“I will be disqualifying myself. I have been quoted [in the Waikato Times] as saying I think people should have a choice about having fluoridation in the water. Some people will perceive that as a conflict of interest.
“It’s a tribunal, which puts it into a higher status than a council hearings committee. Tribunals need to be squeaky clean.”
Fellow west ward councillor Dave Macpherson said he had been sent a “reasonable” number of about 50 emails on the debate.
“To be honest they all go straight into my delete folder,” he said. “I want to be able to sit down and listen with an open mind this week, and I won’t be able to do that if I am reading all these things and letting myself get wound up.” It was evident the issue had “hotted up” for many over the last fortnight, he said.
Deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman said aside from a handful of emails, he had not been subject to much lobbying from either side of the debate – a sign each side
The hearings will be held in the Bill Gallagher Centre in Wintec’s central city campus and the councillors will make their decision on June 5.