Closure of Westpac's Stoke branch 'extreme arrogance', Grey Power says

Rachel Boyack, left of First Union and Gordon Currie of Greypower organised petitions for Stoke Westpac customers last month to oppose the branch's closure.
MARTIN DE RUYTER
Rachel Boyack, left of First Union and Gordon Currie of Greypower organised petitions for Stoke Westpac customers last month to oppose the branch's closure.

The decision by Westpac bank to shut down its Stoke branch has been slammed as "extreme arrogance" by Nelson Grey Power.

Westpac announced on Wednesday that it was going ahead with the closure of its Stoke branch despite strong public opposition from the mayor and residents of Nelson's fastest-growing suburb.

It was part of a wider decision by the bank to close 19 branches across the country, which includes its Takaka branch.

A Westpac spokeswoman said customers were rapidly changing the way they bank and expected 24/7 access to their banking.

The closures would happen in Kamo, Raglan, Otorohanga, Putaruru, Te Aroha, Cherrywood (Tauranga), Whangamata, Broadway Ave (Palmerston North), Wainuiomata, Waikanae, Carterton, Fendalton Mall and Bishopdale (both Christchurch), Gardens (Dunedin), Fairlie, Ranfurly and Te Anau, in early November.

Grey Power president Gordon Currie the decision to close the Stoke branch was "certainly a backwards step". 

He said the suburb was earmarked for significant residential growth and was home to a high number of senior citizens. 

"The bank said everyone's using ATMs now. I'm sorry but that's not true," Currie said. "We're not happy, but there's nothing we can do about it."

Currie and First Union organiser Rachel Boyack started a petition for Stoke customers last month. Nelson mayor Rachel Reese also had talks with Westpac in an attempt to prevent the branch from closing.

That Westpac had ignored public opposition to the closure showed "extreme arrogance", Currie said.

Grey Power has been using Westpac for its banking, but would be looking to take its money elsewhere, Currie said.

Tasman District Councillor Martine Bouillir said the closure of the Takaka branch and the loss of jobs was another disappointing cut for the rural sector.

"I think any job loss is a blow and any closure of a shop is a blow."

Bouillir said even though Westpac was Australian owned, she still supported retaining the bank.

The loss of the bank's external ATM machine would also be missed by residents as well as visitors.

Takaka had recently rallied as its pharmacy was under threat of being shifted out of town and she hoped the town could still retain that.


 

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