Ran­furly loses West­pac bat­tle

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Ran­furly is reel­ing af­ter news its only bank will close.

West­pac an­nounced last week the clo­sure of 19 branches around New Zealand and the clo­sures would oc­cur in early Novem­ber.

Cen­tral Otago mayor Tony Lep­per said like the rest of the Man­iototo com­mu­nity, he felt ‘‘gut­ted’’ at the loss of the es­sen­tial ru­ral ser­vice.

‘‘I had hoped that com­mon sense would pre­vail but that has not hap­pened. We will now have to find an al­ter­na­tive way of look­ing af­ter those peo­ple in Ran­furly who still need a bank­ing ser­vice.’’

Man­iototo busi­ness­woman Amie Pont said the com­mu­nity was sad not only for those who would lose jobs, but the com­mu­nity was los­ing its phys­i­cal bank.

‘‘I guess in a way with all 19 clos­ing the de­ci­sion was in­evitable re­ally. I think the work we did as a com­mu­nity has swayed West­pac to­wards look­ing at what ser­vices they can pro­vide us as a com­mu­nity.’’

West­pac had pro­posed to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion to se­nior cit­i­zens, an ipad or com­puter in a pub­lic space and pos­si­bly an ATM with de­posit fa­cil­i­ties, she said.

‘‘That isn’t guar­an­teed, but it is very nec­es­sary. We have got some work ahead of us to en­sure what­ever is in place, in terms of bank­ing ser­vices, meets the ma­jor­ity of our needs as a com­mu­nity.’’

Some com­mu­nity mem­bers had made noises about chang­ing banks, she said.

‘‘Most peo­ple are wait­ing to see what they pro­vide. If it is sub­stan­dard in any way a lot of peo­ple are ask­ing what a good bank would be and they are look­ing at New Zealand-owned banks. It is a big deal chang­ing banks.’’

Ran­furly Four Square em­ployee Max­ine Mil­lar said ev­ery­one was ‘‘gut­ted’’ and the num­ber of peo­ple de­cid­ing to change banks was ‘‘un­be­liev­able’’.

‘‘Ba­si­cally, if there was an­other op­tion that is fine, but we have old peo­ple here. I have had three peo­ple come in ab­so­lutely fret­ting how they are go­ing to man­age. They can’t get to Alexan­dra, they don’t even have an eft­pos card. In win­ter we are iso­lated. Clubs need banks, shops need banks...it is cer­tainly not go­ing to help.’’

The com­mu­nity had held out some hope the protest might de­lay the in­evitable, she said.

‘‘There was a bit of hope.’’

JO MCKENZIEMCLEAN

Chantel Knox, cen­tre, with her NRG team.

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