Hamilton’s prolonged fluoride saga will have a sequel in court.
Safe Water Alternative New Zealand (Swanz) delivered on its promise to challenge Hamilton City Council’s decision to re-introduce fluoride into the city’s water supply.
The anti-fluoride group lodged a statement of claim with the High Court on Monday asking for a judicial review of the council’s process in re-introducing fluoride and in particular an alleged failure to comply with the Local Government Act’s special consultative procedure.
The group also argues that adding hydrofluorosilicic acid – the chemical added to create fluoride – to the city’s water supply is unlawful because it is a medicine.
The council has set aside $50,000 in its draft annual plan to cover legal costs.Fluoride was expected to be re-introduced into Hamilton’s water from May 19.
Council’s performance general manager Blair Bowcott said the $50,000 legal budget was an estimated cost but the council would spend what was appropriate to defend its fluoridation decision.
”The simple answer is if it costs more we will have to spend more. We’re clearly going to defend it [statement of claim] and we’ve made a decision which has responded to the referendum.
”A council referendum in October last year showed 66.09 per cent (24,635) of Hamilton voters wanted fluoride added to the water. 31.57 per cent (11,768) vote against fluoridation.
Swanz Hamilton co-ordinator Trevor Crosbie said he was unsure how much court proceedings would cost the group but said they were committed to fighting the council decision.
”We’re just paying as we go and we have sufficient money in the kitty to pay the initial costs,” Crosbie said.
It was ”unfortunate” ratepayers had to foot costly legal fees but the council’s failure to comply with the Local Government Act meant Swanz had to act.
”Our legal advice is we’ve got quite a good case in terms of our judicial review. We don’t accept the outcome of the referendum because of the way it was run and the way it was skewed by the [Waikato] DHB and their massive advertising campaign.”
Swanz has sought an interim order from the court directing the city council to halt fluoridation until after the judicial review is resolved.
The interim order hearing is set down for next month.