Supporters fighting to keep the Ruatorea Westpac branch open are planning to travel to Gisborne next week to present a petition to Westpac’s area manager.
One of the supporters of the petition, Manu Caddie says Westpac’s Chief Executive David Mclean was scheduled to appear at an inspiring speakers event planned in Gisborne next week , however community members had been informed that he had pulled out of participating.
Mr Caddie says, “We are very disappointed that Mr Mclean will not be coming. East Coast residents and bank customers were planning to travel to Gisborne to present the signatures and express our support for the branch to remain as the last bank on the Coast.”
Petitions started both online and on paper were created following news of Westpac’s proposed closure of the branch, which would see locals having to travel over 100 kilometres to the nearest bank.
Many who supported the petitions outlined 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.
Mr Caddie says supporters of the branch will now gather at 3.30pm on Monday at the bank in Gisborne to present the petition to Westpac’s area manager David Seymour.
“It seems like the best option in the circumstances, bank executives have refused to meet with the community before they make the final decision – so this seems like our best opportunity to express local sentiment about the planned closure.”
In a statement issued by Westpac’s Corporate Affairs Media Advisor, Haley Ritchie earlier this month, 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.”