DONNA-LEE BIDDLE/Fairfax NZ
The Thames-Coromandel District Council has voted for a binding referendum to be held next year to allow the Thames community to vote on the future of fluoride in the town's water.
A fluoride consultation report presented by The Thames Community Board (TCB) dated November 10, recommended there be no consultation around fluoride in the 2015 long term plan (LTP).
The council said it had received 173 letters since then urging it to to honour its commitment to consult on the matter of fluoridation.
Councillor Murray McLean said he could not support an open motion.
"Let the community have their say... I don't believe there is any other way," he said.
Thames is the only town in the Coromandel Peninsula to have fluoride added to its water. It costs $2300 per year.
A dozen anti-fluoride supporters attended yesterday's council meeting to talk about their disappointment about the use of fluoride.
Dr Jane Beck said the TCB consultations over the 2013 holiday period caught her and others in the Fluoride Free Thames group unaware and they felt unprepared.
"I can understand why any councillor would rather avoid consultation on fluoridation and wish to hand responsibility to the [Ministry of Health] but the fact remains that fluoridation is not mandated in New Zealand because current legislation prohibits that," she said.
In May last year, mayor Glenn Leach used his casting vote and voted in favour of keeping fluoride in the water but agreed that a referendum does need to take place.
He said he was personally against fluoride in the water but voted for it in support of the Thames Community Board.
The fluoride debate will be up for review next year as part of the annual plan 2015.