The rural areas convincingly said "no" to fluoridation. This vote was obtained by a "response" letter sent to every rural water connection.
The rural settlement of Hakatere voted 79% against fluoridation. The rural settlement of Fairton voted 72% against fluoridation.
The urban area was canvassed by a "sample" 400 residents selected by an NRB poll. The result was a disappointment to me. 56.1% supported fluoridation. 31.2% opposed fluoridation. The rest "didn't know". However the interesting thing was that, of those who thought they were sufficiently informed about the subject, twice as many were opposed to fluoridation as supported it. In other words the better you are informed the less likely you are to want fluoridation.
The public forum before the council was deliberately fiddled with by the mayor to favour the fluoridation lobby. With the presentation of the poll data there was meant to be one (myself) speaking against fluoridation and one (Daniel Williams) speaking for fluoridation. But, without prior disclosure, the mayor colluded with Daniel Williams to allow 3 parties (promoted by Daniel Williams) to speak pleading for fluoridation and also permitted Daniel Williams to remain during the ensuing council meeting. However those tricks do not impress the councillors.
After the meeting the media reported that:-
Councillors agreed to move the issue into the next consultation stage, which is likely to see it become part of the council plan process. This will allow members of the public to make further submissions on the issue. A number of councillors felt the annual plan process would not be the right forum for a debate and suggested a binding referendum should be held.
Councillor Kelvin Holmes stated that he had voted fluoridation out last time around and was still happy with that decision "A survey of 400 people doesn't really convince me that this is the right thing to do."
"A binding referendum was the only way to go" councilor John Leadley said. "This is the only time in all my time on the council that I believe we have an issue we should go to the public on. I don't believe I have the mandate to decide this" he said.
"If a referendum was held, it could be held in conjunction with local body elections" councillor Rod Beavan said.
Mayor Bede O'Malley made a strong pitch in support of fluoridation saying the district could not expect to attract health professionals to work here if it was not prepared to take self-help measures such as fluoridation.
Councillor Michael Urquhart backed up the call to heed the advice of professionals.
The above discussion related only to urban Ashburton. The council has decided to drop the idea of fluoridating rural water supplies due to the clear rural vote against fluoridation. However it is urban Ashburton that is the big issue here.
Watch this space!