Members of the Ruatorea community will hold a meeting tonight to discuss the proposed closure of the Westpac branch in their town.
An online petition, as well as a paper petition have been put together to call on Westpac to keep the branch open
Over 3000 signatures are on the paper petition, while over 1500 have pledged their support for the community in the online petition.
Westpac is proposing the closure 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 in 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.”
Organisers of the meeting say Westpac declined an invitation to attend.
The petition can be located by following the link: https://www.change.org/p/westpac-bank-keep-open-westpac-ruatoria