Closure of bank big blow for town

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 28/11/2013

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Foxton's only bank branch will close in January and will "rip the heart" out of the town when it does, a Horowhenua district councillor says.

Westpac spokeswoman Nicki Russell said there was a proposal on the table to close the company's Foxton branch, but this would depend on consultation with staff.

The bank had no obligation to consult with the community, Ms Russell said.

Horowhenua district councillor Michael Feyen said the information he had received was that the bank would close in January.

"The writing is on the wall. There's not a person that isn't talking about it in Foxton and there's a lot of upset people.

"It's in the centre of town and it's one of the most used stores in town, so to take it away is to rip the heart out of the town. It reminds me of a hospital closure, the way people are taking the news."

For more than a year Westpac Foxton has been operating out of a container in Main St after its original building was deemed earthquake- prone.

"The funny thing is that the container is perfect," Mr Feyen said.

"The closure of it affects everybody. We have a high elderly population and people living on the bones of their bum.

"They're just an Aussie bank. To do it in January, in the middle of the holiday season when we are pushing the place as a destination, it shows how much they care."

Mr Feyen said petitions were being drawn up in Foxton to try to stop the bank from closing, but energy should be spent on trying to get a co-operative branch that cared about customer service.

It was terrible news for the two bank tellers in Foxton, who were more than that to the community, Mr Feyen said.

Foxton Little Theatre treasurer Marie Fearon said Westpac's closure would mean she would have to drive to either Palmerston North or Levin carrying cash.

"It's horrifying for the town. It just seems like the deal's been completed quietly behind our backs.

"They'd started work on their old premises but it just suddenly stopped one day. Now we know why."

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- Manawatu Standard

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