Dear all,

We are fully aware of the significant impact the recent water problems have had on many businesses in Brixham and beyond. We’ve seen tourism numbers take a major hit and still well down, with no clear end in sight. The impacts of the negative publicity are likely to be felt for many months ahead. 
This is quite aside from the health impacts and the impacts on residents lives – which have been serious for a lot of people. We focus here on the business impact but please don’t imply this is a suggestion that we aren’t concerned for the affected residents and visitors.
On your behalf we at Brixham Chamber are doing everything we can to fight for both compensation for businesses and employees, and a fund to support destination marketing to bring us out of the other side of this once again as a unique, spectacular and thriving visitor destination.

1. Business Compensation

South West Water have begun a process of compensating businesses. Our understanding at this stage is that, in theory, all businesses will be compensated fully, for the lost trade. Not necessarily the turnover that has been lost, as there may be costs which haven’t been incurred, but the lost profit. Each business will be treated on an individual basis, we were told that by the end of last week over 100 businesses had started this process and a couple had received interim payments for damages.
It’s not yet clear whether the system of individual offers is really working and generous, we are waiting to hear more details before we can advise whether the compensation is adequate. What we have been told is that the claims are not time limited, and businesses can begin a claim, get some payment quickly, and continue to add to the claim in coming weeks. If it turns out that they are NOT offering sufficient compensation, we will be fighting the corner for Brixham businesses.
To provide all the necessary information may be difficult for some businesses, we have asked that SWW have staff in place to make this easy and will keep you updated.
We strongly encourage all affected businesses to begin to start their compensation process: call the number (03332 343 293, open Monday to Friday, 9-5). Our understanding is that you don’t need to be a direct water customer, you just need to have been affected (and have some kind of evidence) that this has happened – so a supplier based well outside Brixham, a self-employed person who was ill with the parasite and couldn’t work, a shop in the town who has suffered low footfall, an industrial business who has had to buy extra chemicals to treat the water supply – these should in principle all be eligible.

1b. Compensation for lost earnings for employees

Many local people are employed on irregular hours contracts, and it would be easy for them to have lost significant amounts of pay recently. As you’ll be aware many residents are not flush with cash and this is an important time for many people to be earning. We have asked SWW how these people will be protected, and will update you once we have a response. 

2. Longer-term marketing support

SWW have agreed to support a restorative Destination Marketing and Media campaign for Brixham in some way.  How this will work is not yet clear – it will NOT be led by SWW – we as a Chamber are well placed to be involved in setting this up and overseeing it.  We know how important this is for Brixham – to support tourism, trade, and also jobs in relation to residents.  This campaign needs to be right – it needs to be focussed and must actually breath the beating heart of Brixham, not generically but for the realness of our port which is why people return again and again. Destination Marketing must be within a car drive too, in addition to the M5 corridor and further afield. This is all yet to be determined, however it is positive to know that the Chamber of Commerce will be at the forefront of ensuring the best for Brixham and our Members.  If any members reading this want to get involved, please get in touch with us.

We are in discussion with other stakeholders like the ERBID, Brixham and Torbay Councillors in addition to our current MP – to ensure that we lobby and put every best effort into a restorative and coherent Marketing Campaign for Brixham, backed by a large sum of money from SWW.

3. We are Stronger Together

Now more than ever we need to stand together as a town with a clear and positive voice. The Chamber with over 120 members is well placed to represent you and give you a stronger platform than you otherwise would have with South West Water. But, we want to be louder and more difficult to ignore. And so we are offering Free Chamber Membership. We are inviting all affected businesses to join our chamber for free, for a 6-month free membership period. If you would like to join us, all you need to do is write to with the following:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Your business name, and if it’s not clear, the type of business you are
  • Your business address

We will sign you up, no fees, and after 6 months when we send you an invoice for renewal you are welcome to leave (membership is usually £35 per year). 
By joining us you’ll swell our numbers to make our voice more powerful, and it’s the best way for us to keep easily in touch with you. 
All existing affected members will be offered a 6-month free extension to their membership for fairness.

4. Clear Marketing Messages

It’s vitally important that all business on customer-focused social media platforms promote the positives of Brixham as much as possible.  For the moment the focus must be on the fact we’re all open as normal, and Brixham remains open for business, with much of the town and businesses unaffected.  Please share posts where you can of positive Brixham based media, messages and updates.  The best way for good and positive social media is using your own channels.  
We are fighting against a national negative media campaign.  If you have any good customer comments or personal mentions of ‘everything great, nothing to worry about when we visited’ etc. they are invaluable. Customer testimonials are very helpful to turn around the negative concerns. Try and get empathy from your customers (“please help us now when we need you most!”), as this will help the positive message come across and hopefully also be shared by them too. Please use #visitbrixham #lovebrixham #beautifulbrixham #englishriviera in posts.
If questions are asked by customers – we must reiterate that only a relatively small area of residential properties are affected and the main part of Brixham going under the boil water notice was precautionary only. 
We will keep in touch with you as the situation unfolds.
Many thanks,
The Chamber Executive team