FLUORIDE will be put in Ballina Shire’s water supply after a shock decision by the council yesterday.

And it could happen within the next 12 months.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader yesterday moved a motion to ‘establish the formal steps towards the implementation of fluoridation‘.

Six councillors voted for the motion, with four voting against it.

The first step will involve discussions with NSW Health.

But in a move which has angered some councillors, there will be no community consultation.

However, Mayor Phillip Silver said it was time to make a decision.

“Even though I personally strongly support fluoride for our water, I would not have voted for it if I honestly believed that the community did not want it,” he said.

Crs Keith Johnson, Jeff Johnson, Alan Brown and David Wright said residents should have been involved in the decision-making process.

“The failure to consult our community is a major one. We have cut our community out,” Cr Johnson said.

“There is still no guarantee fluoride is safe. We should not take that risk with public health.”

Cr Brown agreed: “We owed it to the community to let them know this was going to be debated again.”

But in her emotional speech, Cr Sue Meehan described how poor dental health impacted on every aspect of a child’s life.

“This is Australia’s most preventable health problem,” she said.

“We as a council have a responsibility to our citizens.”

Cr Peter Moore said adding fluoride to the water was a ‘monumental’ decision for the council.

“This issue has been on the agenda for years. This is about our children’s futures,” he said.

“If we don’t start to respond to that then we are being irresponsible.”

Brendan White, president of the North Coast division of the Australian Dental Association, congratulated the council on its decision.

“We have the highest rate of tooth decay in 12-year-olds and the second-highest in five-year-olds,” he said. “This decision has taken way too long.”