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Brixham businesses urge South West Water to help revive tourism after parasite outbreak causes huge drop in visitors

28 May 2024, 08:36 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 08:48

Business owners in Brixham have urged South West Water to help re-market the area after the cryptosporidium outbreak.
Business owners in Brixham have urged South West Water to help re-market the area after the cryptosporidium outbreak. Picture: Getty

By Andy Ballantyne

A water bug outbreak in South Devon has caused a 50% drop in takings for shops and cafes in Brixham, LBC has found.

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Fears and panic over cryptosporidium has led to mass cancellations and a huge drop in visitor numbers to the seaside town.

Now traders in the Devon fishing town want South West Water to help re-market the area and declare the town ‘open for business’.

There’s huge frustration at a general lack of help or response from South West Water in getting the town back on its feet at a crucial point in the tourism season. 

When asked about business and visitor numbers Adrian Butler from Luis Boutique said: "Very quiet… too quiet and it shouldn’t be, there’s hardly anyone out on the road and this time last year it was heaving.

"I can’t even look at the figures else I’ll cry, we’re at least 50% down probably even more."

Despite 200 workers battling to fight the cryptosporidium bug, some 2,500 households remain under a boil water notice - but not the main town centre which has been given the all clear.

Ashley Hamilton runs Curious Kitchen and Bakery, which are a few doors apart, said: "Nobody has got anything to worry about, we are chomping at the bit to get people through the door.

"Hospitality in general has had a bit of a kicking and we need your help.

"We have lost about 50% business in the last week, and South West Water need to pull up their socks and make it right."

Read more: More than 50 people in Devon ill from contaminated water as suppliers announce £3.5m compensation

Read more: Two hospitalised in Devon's water crisis as Environment Secretary warns cases could rise further

Business in Brixham has taken a hit following the cryptosporidium outbreak.
Business in Brixham has taken a hit following the cryptosporidium outbreak. Picture: Alamy

Calls for the boss of South West Water to resign or give up her bonus have fallen on deaf ears.

Parent group Pennon are expected to spend £3.5 million in compensation. Last week they posted underlying operating profits of £166.3 million.

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs is overseeing the recovery.

Minister Mark Spencer told LBC last week that South west water needed to do more.

"It’s not good enough and we told South West Water that and the way they’ve handled this has not been the best.

"I think that there will be questions into the way they’ve handled this in the longer term."

In response South west water provided a written statement in it they said: "We understand that businesses will be impacted by this incident, and we are dealing with this on a case-by-case basis.

"If businesses call us then we will be able to understand the impact on them and look at how we best support them."

South west water have apologised and thanked local people for their patience as they work to resolve this situation.

The number of confirmed cryptosporidium cases currently stands at 77.

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