A New Plymouth councillor took aim at the Taranaki District Health Board yesterday and said it had failed to voice a convincing argument in favour of fluoridated water.
Shaun Biesiek’s motion that the council cease fluoridation won the votes at Thursday’s full meeting.
Mr Biesiek said yesterday the response from his supporters and other members of the public had been fairly positive after the council’s shock decision to cease fluoridation after more than 40 years.
“The Taranaki District Health Board did not bring any conclusive evidence to the submission process that backed up the health industry’s comments they have been making in the newspaper ever since the decision was made,” he told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.
He said during the submission process he never saw one statistic that supported subsequent comments that tooth decay will increase as a result of fluoride being removed from the city’s water supply.
In Saturday’s Taranaki Daily News the Health Ministry’s chief dental officer, Robyn Haisman-Welsh, described the council’s decision as “deeply disappointing”.
“Unfortunately the legacy will be one of increased tooth decay, especially for the most vulnerable people in the community.”
It would mean a higher cost for both taxpayers and individuals, Dr Haisman-Welsh said.
A Taranaki District Health Board submission called for fluoridation to remain and be started in all towns with 1000 people or more.
Until last week Inglewood, Oakura and Okato were the only towns in the district with unfluoridated water.
Mr Biesiek said the council decision wasn’t surprising because there was a lack of evidence in favour of fluoride.
Councillor Lance Girling-Butcher said his front door was still intact despite voting against the retention of fluoride.
“I haven’t had anyone bashing on my door or march[ing] up to me on the street telling me I’m an idiot, but I’m not looking forward to my next dentist appointment either,” he said.
Leaving fluoride out of the water supply has only one loser, Mr Girling-Butcher said.
“It’s the poor bloody kids I feel sorry for that will lose out, but it was a difficult decision and hopefully some money going into education about tooth decay will help.”
Deputy Mayor Alex Matheson played the freedom card, saying the decision was made in a democratic process and the people of New Plymouth accept what has happened and will get over it.
Councillor John McLeod said his supporters, many of whom leaned on the green side, were pleased the water supply would go back to its natural form.
“The weight of the evidence for fluoride was inconclusive and it came down to whether the water was safe.
” Where there was doubt I wasn’t prepared to go there.”
An online Taranaki Daily News poll asking readers whether they agree with the decision to remove fluoride from the water supply or think removing it will cause increased tooth decay has received 927 votes.
In favour of fluoride-free water and freedom of choice were 51.8 per cent, with 48.2 per cent saying it was the wrong decision.