Overview of Council Activity 2002 – 2012
As at November 2012, there are only 23 local authorities, out of a total of 67, that continue fluoridation. However, because large centres such as Auckland and Wellington have fluoridation, the total population supplied with fluoridated water is around 52%.
South Taranaki District Council – 2012 proposed to introduce fluoridation to the small towns of Patea and Waverley. They have undertaken public consulatation that has found the overwhelming majority of residents do not want fluoridation started. The Council meet on the 10th of December to either make their decision or to agree to further investigation.
Cemtral Hawke’s Bay District Coucnil – 2012 decided to stop fluoridation of its only fluoridated town of Waipukurau after public consultation showed overwhelming support for it to be stopped.
Wellington Regional Council – 2012 Chair of the Social and Cultural Wellbeing committee, Nigel Wilson, said he would investigate undertaking a review of fluoridation in 2013. However, this appears to have come to a standstill with the issue of council amalgamation around Wellington taking precedence over everything else.
Hamilton City Council – 2012 decided not to hold the referendum and has referred the issue of to the Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee to consider a way forward. They have advised that “this will allow detailed discussion on what the best process would be for making a decision on whether or not to continue fluoridation of the city’s water supply.” The meet on the 6th of Decemember to decide what form this consultation willt take.
Whakatane District Council – 2012 voted to hold a non-binding referendum in conjunction with the 2013 local body election.
Invercargill District Council – 2012 decided to undertake more research into the issue although what form this will take is yet to be decided.
Manitoto Community Board – 2012 decided to introduce fluoridation to the small Otago township of Ranfurly. A Public Health South sponsored referendum in 2007 saw the majority of voters in Manitoto chose in favour of fluoridation. It remains to be seen if the Otago District Council will agree to the expenditure of $25,000 is worthwhile for a population of only 700 people.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council – 2012 decided to invite submissions from people directly affected to be considered by Council alongside expert advice from both sides of the debate.
Background – in 2009 this council undertook a comprehensive consultation on whether to continue fluoridation in their only fluoridated town of Waipukurau as they needed to replace their fluoridation equipment. They did a household survey where both sides of the issue were presented. They also held a community meeting, again with both sides represented and invited submissions. The household survey showed 60% of respondents (40% of people responded) wanted fluoridation stopped, however, the councillors chose to buy new fluoridation equipment and continue.
Hastings District Council – 2011 voted to hold a binding referendum in conjunction with the 2013 local body election.
New Plymouth District Council – 2011 stopped fluoridation. This council held a Tribunal Hearing where people were invited to put in a written submission and present to the Hearing if they chose. The Council provided 1 ½ hours for each side to give a primary presentation, then 10 minutes for every other presenter, closing on the second day with a half hour summing up by both sides. The councillors ended up agreeing unanimously to stop fluoridation provided the money saved was put toward an education campaign run in conjunction with the DHB. A couple of weeks later an article appeared in the Taranaki Daily News reporting that there had been a run on fluoride tablets from the local chemist but that the chief Oral Health Advisor from the MoH was advising that fluoride tablets were no longer recommended and therefore no need for people to buy tablets.
New Plymouth District Council – 2011 stopped fluoridation in the city of New Plymouth (population 50,000). New Plymouth and Waitara were the only fluoridated townships in the area. The council ended up voting unanimously to stop once an amendment was added to the motion to direct the funds saved by not fluoridating to a joint scheme with the DHB to promote dental health. See Taranaki Daily News.
Ruapehu Taumarunui District Council – 2011 stopped fluoridation in their only fluoridated town of Taumarunui. The councillors made the decision without public consultation and gave the following reasons:
“Factors in the decision included, but were not limited to:
• The introduction of fluoridation into Taumarunui without a significant consultation process in the 1960s
• The role of a Council in health outcomes when it does not fully understand the science, nor is able or willing to monitor health outcomes. Council is not primarily a provider of health or dental services
• The lack of choice possible by a blanket treatment amongst population today, many of whom desire choice
• The lack of unequivocal statements of safety of fluoride to all people who do not have the choice to ingest it “
There has been no public outcry or any repercussions from the Ministry of Health or central government.
Kapiti Coast District Council – 2010 hung vote saw the status quo of fluoridation continued in Paraparaumu and Waikanae with level reduced to 0.7ppm despite MoH opposition, and no fluoridation continued in Paekaekariki and Otaki.
Background – In 2009 councillors voted to include stopping fluoridation in the Draft Annual Plan. Submissions attracted a large number of people including a petition of around 950 people saying they wanted fluoridation stopped. The vast majority of submissions were from residents wanting fluoridation stopped while most pro-fluoridation submissions were from dentists around the country. Six of the 11 councillors were against fluoridation, but one of the six ended up being on a work trip in Australia at the time the decision was made as she had been informed by the CEO that the issue would not be decided during that time frame but a late change to the timetable meant that it was. The councillors were advised by the CEO that the MoH had made a complaint about lack of consultation and that there was a possibility of a Judicial Review. It is highly unlikely this would have transpired since the council had undertaken a normal consultative procedure through the Draft Annual Process but it may have been enough to scare some of the swinging councillors to vote against stopping it. When the missing councillor returned they were able to vote to reduce the level of fluoride down to 0.7ppm but were not allowed to revisit the original motion.
Far North District Council – 2010 – fluoridation stopped in Kaikohe and Kaitaia after a household survey found 60% against fluoridation.
Background – fluoridation was started in Kaitaia in the early 1970s and ran until the late 1990s when equipment broke down and council decided not to fix it. In 2007 a two year trial was initiated into both Kaitaia and Kaikohe with the MoH providing over $300,000 funding to help build the new water treatment centre providing they included fluoridation. The money was meant to be repaid on a pro-rata basis if fluoridation was stopped within ten years unless done so as a result of a referendum. In 2009 fluoridation was stopped and a household survey (not a referendum) was conducted in 2010. Despite lots of issues around the organisation and transparency of this process, it was announced that 60% of respondents said they did not want fluoridation. Even though this wasn’t actually a referendum the Far North Council chose not to repay the $275,000 owed. The MoH did not pursue the matter further.
Clutha District Council– 2009 fluoridation started in Milton, Kaitangata and Tapanui. A Public Health South sponsored referendum in 2007 saw the majority of voters in Milton, slightly over half of voters in Kaitangata and slightly less voters in Tapanui chose in favour of fluoridation.
Ashburton District Council – 2008 chose not to stop fluoridation in small town of Methven as referendum found most voters in favour of fluoridation.
Ashburton District Council – 2007 chose not to restart fluoridation after a referendum saw 60% of people voting against fluoridation.
Background – fluoridation started in Ashburton in 1960. In 2002 there was a household survey where a 60% majority chose to stop fluoridation and the Council complied. Then in 2007 a new council ordered a referendum and 60% again chose to reject fluoridation.
Southland District Council – 2007 decision not to introduce fluoridation to any towns under their jurisdiction. A Public Health South sponsored referendum in 2007 saw the majority of voters in all towns in this district vote not to start fluoridation. Referendum was never undertaken in fluoridated Invercargill.
Waitaki District Council – 2007 decision not to introduce fluoridation to any towns under their jurisdiction. A Public Health South sponsored referendum in 2007 saw the majority of voters in all towns in this district vote not to start fluoridation.
Grey District – 2006 referendum saw over 70% against, fluoridation never started.
Whanganui – 2006 referendum saw over 70% against, fluoridation never started.
Rotorua – 2004 council decision not to start fluoridation despite push from DHB.
Whangarei –2002 referendum saw over 70% against, fluoridation never started.
Wairoa – 2002 decision to start fluoridation overturned after citizen initiated petition.