Res­i­dents threaten boy­cott

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The Hore fam­ily has banked in the Man­iototo since the first bank opened in the 1880s. That could soon change.

Stuart Hore, 77, is one of many Man­iototo res­i­dents threat­en­ing to pull his busi­ness from West­pac if it closes its Ran­furly branch. The town’s branch is one of 19 West­pac is propos­ing to close around the coun­try.

The town of 800 only has one bank, and with an age­ing popu- la­tion, many fear how the el­derly will cope without a bank. The clos­est bank is a 180-kilo­me­tre round trip to Alexan­dra, and even fur­ther for out­ly­ing towns.

Hore said the pro­posed clo­sure was a ‘‘dis­grace’’.

‘‘It is dis­grace West­pac should con­sider clos­ing such an iso­lated bank...My fam­ily has been bank­ing for four gen­er­a­tions. I am loathe to take my bank­ing else­where but if they shift the bank from Ran­furly, I will surely think about it...they show us no loy­alty. We will show them none.’’

Hore and his fam­ily stood with about 300 community mem­bers in Ran­furly on Fri­day protest­ing the pro­posed clo­sure.

Protest or­gan­is­ers and Man­iototo busi­ness­woman Amie Pont said when the bank an­nounced its pro­posal two weeks ago re­ac­tions had ranged from shock, anger, dis­be­lief, de­spair and there had been emo­tional out­cries from many community mem­bers.

‘‘We are in­vested in this area, and to feel the threat of the un­do­ing of all and many oth­ers’ hard work, com­mit­ment and in­vest­ment is heart­break­ing. The re­al­ity is no­body wants to be gather­ing here un­der these cir­cum­stances, but as if we were go­ing to sit back and do noth­ing. We have done the best we pos­si­bly can to stick up for our­selves and de­mand that we de­serve a bank.’’

Over 900 peo­ple had signed a pe­ti­tion, and ‘‘hun­dreds’’ of let­ters and sub­mis­sions had been writ­ten ap­peal­ing for the bank to stay open, she said.

Cen­tral Otago mayor Tony Lep­per said he had sub­mit­ted to West­pac on the community’s be­half and they had de­clined to meet with him.

‘‘I have been think­ing, what can you guys do to stop it...there are a lot of ru­ral cus­tomers out there who bank with West­pac and I lived in this area, and I banked with West­pac and they closed my bank, I would change banks, and that is what I think you should do.’’

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The Man­iototo community ral­lied to­gether on Fri­day to protest the pro­posed clo­sure of Ran­furly’s West­pac bank - the only bank in town.

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