ANZ customers air feelings of betrayal

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan holds the chair during a public meeting to discuss the proposal to close the ANZ Milton branch last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan holds the chair during a public meeting to discuss the proposal to close the ANZ Milton branch last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Broken promises and pleas falling on deaf ears were the recurring themes among Milton residents who voiced their frustrations at a public meeting last night over a proposal to close the last bank in the town.

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan and Clutha District Council Bruce ward councillors Gaynor Finch, Bruce Vollweiler and Selwyn Wilkinson headed the meeting at the Coronation Hall in Milton.

More than 150 people from the area attended to express their concern over ANZ's proposal to close its branch in Milton.

Mr Cadogan said it was a battle between a small community and a huge corporation.

''It's concerning to me the limited negotiating stance any community has when dealing with a large corporation that has, by and large, made a decision.''

The community was asking a ''corporate giant to have a social conscience''.

Representatives of ANZ met Clutha District Council staff yesterday before last night's meeting.

Mr Cadogan said they fought ''for the bottom line'' over what the bank should give Milton in the event of the closure.

Mr Cadogan said the bank had agreed to keep an ATM, notify the council of its use and let it know when the branch building would be put on the market.

In reply to questions asked by residents at the meeting, an ANZ representative said as discussions were still ongoing with branch staff, the bank was limited in what it could discuss at a public meeting.

There was a shared feeling that when the Westpac Milton branch closed in 2014, many were told ANZ was ''in it for the long haul'', and many felt betrayed by the proposal to shut the bank.

ANZ said it was not viable to keep the branch open, as use of the bank had dropped over the past year.

Information provided at the meeting stated the council did not switch banks when the Westpac branch closed, a statement that Mr Cadogan rejected.

''As of last Tuesday, the council had $7 million with [ANZ],'' he said.

Cr Finch said she doubted some of the figures provided by the bank, which stated about 40 people had switched banks, and asked residents to let her know how many had actually become ANZ customers.

One man at the meeting said the bank was ''killing the town'' if it decided to go ahead.

An official announcement on the decision to close the bank is expected in October and, subject to consultation with branch staff, the branch will close on November 4.

- Otago Daily Times

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