28 Jul 2012

Closure of Waverley bank branch unexpected - ANZ

8:00 pm on 28 July 2012

A spokesperson for the only bank in the south Taranaki town of Waverley says an earthquake report that has forced it to close came out of the blue.

The building failed an earthquake review, undertaken at all ANZ buildings, and Friday was its last day of operation.

Regional manager Lynne Sutherland says safety is the only reason the bank is pulling out of the town.

"The seismic assessment was absolutely something we weren't expecting," she says. "It came out of the blue and we've had to act on it very quickly, given the safety risks."

Ms Sutherland says no other sites in the town are suitable for relocation, so staff will be relocated to banks in Hawera and Whanganui and customers will be offered those services instead.

South Taranaki mayor Ross Dunlop says he was astounded that a single-storey wooden building could be seen as a great earthquake risk and the bank's move is a total overreaction.

Mr Dunlop says the building does not even feature on the council's list of earthquake-prone buildings but he has spoken to the bank and it is adamant the branch must be closed.

The mayor says ANZ has been operating in Waverley for more than 100 years.

Farmer devastated by closure

South Taranaki farmer Paul Pedersen, who has had an account at the branch for 40 years, says he's devastated by the closure.

Mr Pedersen, who farms just south of Waverley, will now have to travel 45 kilometres to Whanganui to do his banking.

He says rural areas are losing many essential services and the closure is another blow to the small town.

Mr Pedersen says internet banking is no use for those without computers, or for those, particularly the elderly, who prefer the services of a bank.