LEADING members of a council which refused to take part in a water fluoridation trial some 63 years ago, look set to back a move to investigate the benefits and drawbacks of adding the mineral to the water supply.

Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet has been recommended to carry out a technical appraisal for consideration of a water fluoridation scheme in the town and/or the Tees Valley.

The inquiry follows councillors being told while children’s oral health was also closely linked to deprivation, there were huge differences between the economically similar areas of Darlington and Hartlepool, where the latter has fluoride naturally in the water.

A study by Public Health England last year found more than a third of five-year-old children in the Darlington area had several decayed teeth by the time they started school.

Supporters of fluoridation say it is the most cost-effective public health measure that could be introduced to improve oral health in Darlington.

However, suggestions that fluoride could be added to the water supply in the town has attracted condemnation from campaigners, who claim to do so would infringe their human rights.

Darlington resident Alan Hall said fluoride’s toxicity rating was between lead and arsenic and therefore was a “poison”.