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Bank petition shows Carterton’s fight

If Westpac thinks that its Carterton customers will lie down without a fight, they’re dead wrong.
But whether the community’s pluck will end up being enough to save their branch is doubtful.
More than 70 jobs are at stake and 19 Westpac branches across the country, including Carterton, under threat of closure under plans made public last week.
If the Carterton branch closes, five jobs would be lost.
Carterton Mayor John Booth has given the bank “a piece of his mind” when they rang him to warn him of the possible closure.
The people of the town have quickly got on board, with a petition started to support the branch and its staff.
By Wednesday it had already attracted around 250 signatures.
Even floating the idea of closure could do damage to the Westpac brand, not only in Carterton, but throughout Wairarapa.
People will question their loyalty to the bank, and those considering where to open an account will wonder if it’s worth their while going to Westpac if the branch’s future is under a cloud.
It’s not the first time such an idea has been floated, either.
Just last year Westpac branches in Masterton and Carterton came under question after reports the company was to undergo a nationwide restructure.
That didn’t happen, and the two branches carried on as usual.
People in Wairarapa do things differently than in the major centres such as Wellington.
There is less reliance on doing business over the internet, and more emphasis on face-to-face transactions.
In fact, there are fewer people with internet here, with recent figures showing that the percentage of Wairarapa residents connected to the net is much lower than in the cities.
What is clear is that any decision will be made on financial reasoning, that’s just how it works.
But while that maybe good for the shareholders, it’s terrible for the community.
Westpac communications boss Chris Mirams is not giving any timeframe on a decision, but his response is telling.
“There’s a process going through. We will then talk with our staff and clients. That’s what will happen.”
It almost sounds like the decision has been made.

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