News the Stratford branch of the BNZ bank is set to close next year has not been welcomed by the district's mayor or residents.
Stratford District mayor Neil Volzke says no matter what spin the bank management might put on it, the simple fact is that Stratford loses a service.
"It is extremely disappointing to learn of the planned BNZ closures across the country. While the BNZ justifies its decision by quoting all sorts of reasons supported by carefully crafted media releases, in reality, it is simply a withdrawal of service from those communities."
The announcement last week that the Stratford branch is one of 38 BNZ bank branches across New Zealand to be closed over the next seven months comes at a bad time, he says.
"These closures will result in further job losses in our community at a time when this is most hurtful. Meanwhile banks continue to make huge profits without showing much in the way of social responsibility."
Despite many services moving online, people still need to visit their bank in person at times, says Volzke.
"Even more so for those who don't have ready access to computers and for many of our older people. Having to travel quite significant distances to other towns to simply access a bank service is very inconvenient and creates an unwanted additional travel cost.
"It becomes an even more frustrating exercise when you get there to find the bank is open for only limited trading hours and having to return home, having not completed your business."
Dianne Roberts, chairwoman of the Stratford Foodbank, says the closure will impact vulnerable members of the community, describing the decision as "elder abuse".
"It is their money and they are being stopped from easily accessing it. They don't always want family or caregivers to be able to access their account to help them, and of course, that opens them up to risk as well."
She says many older people cannot easily access online services, nor do they have the tools to do so.
"They don't have expensive smartphones, or computers set up to do this all online. They need to be able to go into a bank and talk with a person there, not a voice at the end of a phone or an online help option."
She says the issues aren't just of technology itself, but sometimes even more basic.
"As people get older their eyesight might fail, they struggle to read a screen and press the right buttons on a phone or machine."
It's not as simple as driving to New Plymouth to access the bank, she says.
"Not everyone can drive, or afford the petrol to go out of town every time they need to talk to their bank. The closure will impact many of our vulnerable elderly."