A majority decision by the Upper Hutt City Council “to lobby” Greater Wellington to remove fluoride from the region’s water supply has been hailed a major milestone by the Fluoride Action Network.

The decision, taken with an unofficially recorded seven to four vote, emerged out of Thursday’s hearing of public submissions to the council’s own 2011/12 annual plan.

The controversial fluoridation subject was mostly seen as a “freedom of choice” issue, with councillors Nick Thomas and John Gwilliam leading the discussion ahead of the decision.

The existing fluoridation system allowed no choice and amounted to “mass medication”, Mr Thomas says.

Although nothing specific on fluoridation was included in the draft annual plan, councillors received more than a dozen anti-fluoride submissions.

“We congratulate the Upper Hutt councillors for putting common sense, respect for others and principles above all else,” the Action Network’s national co-ordinator, Mary Byrne, says.

“This is a major milestone in the road toward having fluoridation stopped for the whole of Wellington.

“However, rather than lobby Greater Wellington, which has always maintained that it will do as its customers request, the Upper Hutt City Council should instigate discussion with the Hutt, Porirua and Wellington councils,” Ms Byrne says.

“Councillors around the country are finally looking at the facts of this issue and realising that if there are any benefits from fluoridation then they are grossly overstated, that there are serious risks to health … ,” she says.