Council leaders have decided not to take further action on fluoridation in west Cumbria until the reports of an on-going study are concluded.

Members of Cumbria County Council’s cabinet say they need “sufficient local evidence” before determining further consideration of treatment to the area’s water.

A petition, presented to Allerdale Local Committee in September, called for the council to debate the removal of artificial fluoride from water in Allerdale and Copeland, a source of a long-running health debate.

The committee referred to cabinet that the fluoridation process in west Cumbria be investigated.

But following the recommendation of the director of public health, members agreed to wait until the Cumbrian Assessment of Teeth, a Fluoride Intervention Study for Health (known as Catfish) is complete.

Catfish aims to analyse the impact on the dental health of children of a recent break in the fluoridation of west Cumbrian water supplies.

Campaigners argue, however, that it is not robust because it only deals with children who were in their first year of school in September 2013.

Responding to a number of concerns raised by Fluoride Free Cumbria, Ian Stewart, the councillor responsible for public health, said: “There is no credible scientific evidence that water fluoridisation is a cause of ill health.

“What I am very comfortable with is to wait until we’ve got that significant local evidence. I believe that the Catfish study will provide that.”

Among those who put questions to the cabinet was Dianne Standen, secretary of Fluoride Free Cumbria.

She highlighted how breast-fed infants receive 0.0006mg of fluoride per litre whereas those fed with baby formula made up with fluoridated water are “potentially receiving chronically damaging levels of fluoride” of 1mg per litre. She asked if the county council would communicate this to parents in west Cumbria.

Mr Stewart said: “There is no need to communicate such information. There is no credible scientific evidence that fluoride at levels of 1ppm is damaging to infants.”

Public health director Colin Cox said: “On the question of safety I am satisfied that there is no robust evidence of harm arising from fluoridation at the levels we fluorate.”

Mr Cox drew on the 2014 monitoring report from Public Health England which looked at the difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. He said it found no evidence that there is damage to health in fluoridated areas.