Around 250 people have supported an online petition calling for Westpac Bank to keep its branch open in the East Coast community of Ruatorea.
According to the petition, Westpac is proposing the closure of the branch, which will see locals having to travel over 100 kilometres to the nearest branch.
Many of the people who have signed the online petition created by Morgan Godfery say they have limited and in some cases no access to internet or phone banking and the removal of the branch would have a huge impact on members of the community, particularly the elderly.
A comment left by one of the petition’s supporters who lives n Ruatorea says, “The bank makes life a lot easier for families on the coast, being able to bank and do their business. Coasties already have to travel a fair bit to get food and petrol we also have a lot of visitors to our township and neighboring townships that need this bank as well. Taking the bank will really isolate us, not to mention the hard working and nice bank staff who may lose their jobs, the bank should stay.”
If the branch is removed, locals will be forced to travel either to Gisborne 129km away or Ōpōtiki over 200km away to make physical transactions.
According to Westpac’s Corporate Affairs Media Advisor Haley Ritchie, the possible closure of the branch is, “... a proposal only and we are consulting with our employees. There has been a steady decline in people using the branch over the past few years and we are assessing our options as a result. Should the proposal go ahead we intend to leave an ATM and deposit facilities in the area.”
The petition can be located by following the link: https://www.change.org/p/westpac-bank-keep-open-westpac-ruatoria