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At least one West Coast council says it could look at changing bankers, amid growing concerns that banks are withdrawing from the region and reducing hours.
Reefton leaders are in talks with NBS after the Bank of New Zealand announced recently it would shut its Reefton branch, along with Westport and 36 other branches around the country, early this year.
In Hokitika, the only remaining banks, Westpac and ASB, have been operating on reduced hours since the country came out of the Covid-19 lockdown and both have closed throughout the Christmas period.
Westport will also soon be down to two banks, ASB and Westpac; ASB is on reduced hours, and Westpac opens three days a week.
Mayors are backing some sort of hub to retain banking services and have also written to the Government highlighting their concerns.
They are open to the suggestion of changing banks if that would help convince a bank to stay, each council having millions of dollars.
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said the council had previously moved from ASB to Westpac.
“It if took us to change banks to encourage someone to be co-operative, I’m sure councils would consider that.”
Mr Smith said the only light at the end of the tunnel was some sort of ‘‘banking hub’’, currently being trialled elsewhere.
While it might not make money, it would be profitable for the community, he said.
Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said as New Zealand owned-NBS was not a registered bank, financial rules meant the council had to limit its exposure.
His council had to pass an exemption every year to allow it to do more business with NBS.
Mr Cleine said the banking hub being trialled in Stoke, Nelson, appeared to be a smart teller machine, iPad and a phone on the wall for help.
— Greymouth Star