Pro­posal to close bank puts el­derly out

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - CAITLIN MOORBY

The list of empty shops down Pu­taruru’s main drag con­tin­ues to grow as West­pac pro­poses to close.

The bank re­cently an­nounced they were look­ing to close five Waikato branches, in­clud­ing the Pu­taruru one.

Res­i­dent Stephen Pearce said if the West­pac branch did go it would be the sixth va­cant shop along Princes St.

Pearce and his fam­ily had owned a shoe store on the main street for 49-years.

‘‘Pu­taruru was a boom town back then be­cause of the saw mills and the farm­ing ... it’s dis­ap­point­ing to see what’s hap­pen­ing now.

‘‘Sadly the smaller coun­try towns are dy­ing.’’

Pearce said he was lucky that he could drive to other cen­tres to do his bank­ing, but oth­ers didn’t have that lux­ury.

‘‘There are el­derly that have no way of get­ting to other towns.’’

Mar­ion De La Haye lives in an el­derly vil­lage and said she would find it in­con­ve­nient if West­pac was to go.

De La Haye has banked with West­pac for the last 30 to 40 years.

She said she rarely drives out of town so would have to con­sider chang­ing banks if the town loses its branch.

‘‘From an el­derly per­spec­tive it will make life a lot more dif­fi­cult. There are peo­ple who don’t drive and are not com­puter-lit­er­ate ... this leaves them no other op­tion than to change banks which would be a very stress­ful process.’’

De La Haye did use the com­puter but not for pay­ments as she was too fright­ened she’d add an ex­tra nought on the end of her trans­fer.

She said she en­joys go­ing into the bank and pay­ing over the counter.

‘‘I’m not a kid, I’m 82 and some­times it’s nice to go in and re­ceive some help lovely.’’

South Waikato District Coun­cil Mayor Neil Sin­clair said he has banked with West­pac for more than 60-years and would be forced to move his busi­ness else­where if the branch closed.

Sin­clair said the area was try­ing to pro­duce eco­nomic growth and a big cor­po­ra­tion like West­pac pulling out didn’t help.

The Pu­taruru West­pac is one of 19 branches on the chop­ping block.

Con­fir­ma­tion on which will close is ex­pected by the end of Septem­ber. ... the ladies are

West­pac branch could close.

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