5 Oct 2016

More small town bank closures on the way

6:39 pm on 5 October 2016

Seven ANZ branches are set to shut, in the latest of a series of small town bank closures.

ANZ Bank sign on Queen Street, Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The bank signalled last month that it was consulting with staff on closing branches in Milton, Ngāruawāhia, Otorohanga, Te Aroha and at Massey University in Palmerston North.

A spokesperson said at the time that the vast majority of customers did their day-to-day banking online or on their phone.

After "careful consideration", the bank was proposing to close low-volume branches, leaving a smart ATM so customers could withdraw and deposit cash, he said.

Checkpoint with John Campbell confirmed today that the branch in Milton, south of Dunedin, would shut.

In a statement, the bank said it confirmed the closure of the branches in Otorohanga and Te Aroha yesterday. It said closures in Taihape, Kawerau, Ngāruawāhia and Paihia had also been confirmed, and the Massey University branch would amalgamate with others in Palmerston North.

It said it would be opening branches at the Tauranga Crossing and Ferrymead in Christchurch.

Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan told Checkpoint ANZ's consultation was a "pantomime" and it was "bloody frustrating".

The government needed to step in and stop the closures, he said.

"The reality is that the town of Milton, along with a number of other small rural towns, have lost a service that was integral to so many people, especially the elderly, especially the disabled," Mr Cadogan said.

First Union spokesperson Tali Williams said Hokitika, Waitara and Waimate would be told on Friday if their branches would stay open.

She had only just found out that closures had been confirmed at Otorohanga and Te Aroha, and she had not heard from ANZ, she said.

The union made a submission last week as part of the bank's consultation period, which closed on Friday, and the bank had decided to close the branches after just one day reviewing the submissions, she said.

"It's actually quite appalling.

"People ... thought the bank would be taking those points into genuine consideration, as a consultation is supposed to.

"And that in our view does not show genuine consultation and it doesn't show a commitment to those communities to listen to customers and what they've got to say about the branch closing in their community."

She said none of the banks had remained open after the consultation period closed.

Westpac confirmed in mid-September that it would be closing 19 branches around the country.

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