Green Island branch to close

Branch cut . . . Greater Green Island Business Association chairman Antony Duthie is disappointed the Westpac branch in Green Island is closing despite the suburb being a good place to do business. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Westpac will close its branch in Green Island in less than a fortnight, raising concern for people lacking access to internet and transport.

A Westpac spokesman said more customers were doing their banking on the phone or online and fewer customers were visiting its branch in Main South Rd.

“We will be closing this branch on Wednesday, October 23.”

Westpac would concentrate its services at other nearby branches, such as South Dunedin, he said.

No-one would lose their job as a result of the branch closure, as its staff would be redeployed to other branches.

The automated teller machine on an exterior wall of the branch would be removed.

Westpac customers could use the Kiwibank ATM in Green Island for free, he said.

Greater Green Island Community Network chairman and Green Island School principal Steve Hayward said he asked Westpac to keep the branch open and its impending closure was “sad”.

“I feel for the elderly in our community.”

A branch in Green Island was much easier for the elderly in the greater Green Island area to access than the branch in South Dunedin.

A direct bus route between Green Island and South Dunedin was stopped when the bus hub in central Dunedin was established.

The branch would be a loss for the many businesses in Green Island who used it to bank cash.

Greater Green Island Business Association chairman and Green Island Night ‘n Day owner Antony Duthie said he was disappointed Westpac was closing the branch because it was “well used” by the community in the Greater Green Island area.

“I thought there would have been enough patronage to keep it going.”

The elderly would be hit the hardest because they found it harder to access online banking or get to other branches in Dunedin.

The branch closure was bucking a trend of many new businesses opening in Green Island, such as NPD service station and Dunedin Truck Servicing Ltd.

“Green Island is not the quiet little place people think it is.”

Colin Weatherall, former Dunedin city councillor for the Saddle Hill/Green Island ward, said he has been a Westpac customer for more than 45 years and regularly used the branch – for personal banking and for business, as a Brighton Gala Day co-organiser.

The branch would be missed, especially by the “senior community”.

He preferred to talk to bank staff in person rather than online or by phone.

“I’m passionate about people being able to do business across a counter.”

He was pleased no staff had lost their jobs – “that’s a positive” – but he was disappointed the ATM would be removed.

“It’s a machine of convenience and I use it once or twice a week.”

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said the closure was a “sign of the times” as it was costly for any business to keep its doors open, especially when fewer customers were visiting it.

As customers shifted to buying goods and accessing services online, society needed to investigate how to keep “all sectors of the community connected”.

“Whether it’s the elderly, or those with accessibility issues – how do we try and meet all of those needs?”