Hamilton City Council today agreed to establish a ‘tribunal style’ hearing to be held in late May 2013 to determine whether fluoride should continue to be in the City’s water supply.
Council staff presented a report to last week’s Strategy and Policy Committee proposing eight options for decision-making including: informal feedback via surveys and the citizens’ panel, a binding referendum and a tribunal approach similar to the one held by New Plymouth District Council-.
The most expensive option was the referendum and the least expensive was an informal approach e.g.an online poll.
The tribunal approach, when managed alongside an existing consultation process such as the Annual Plan, was anticipated to cost around $5,000 and expected to deliver the most robust outcome.
The tribunal approach will therefore follow the timing of the 2013/14 Annual Plan although it is an entirely separate process.
Members of the public who presented at the open forum section of a committee meeting last week also generally supported a tribunal approach.
What is a Tribunal?
The issue is formally advertised – this will be in February 2013.
Submissions are called for and people have a month to submit – throughout March 2013.
Those in support of fluoridation and those against are then invited to each form groups – one group ‘for’ and one ‘against’. These two groups then gather the evidence over a series of about six weeks and present their combined cases to the Council (each group determines the number of speakers and style of presentation) in a hearings-type environment where elected members can ask questions. Following the questions each side summarises. This is the Tribunal.
Note: if people don’t wish to be part of the primary groups (for or against) they can still be heard as an individual.
The Council [Tribunal] then deliberates on the evidence and presentations and makes a decision.
Some resourcing and co-ordination support is provided to the groups by Council staff.