‘Alstonville still needs a bank’
THE Alstonville community is still reeling after its last bank permanently closed in December, but local politicians say they are still trying to secure another bank for the village.
The closure of Commonwealth Bank on December 6 spelled the end of physical banking in the village, other than at the local post office.
With Alstonville’s sizeable industrial estate, healthy retail sector and elderly and disabled population, its impending closure forced some customers and community members to try and save it themselves.
Summerland Pools owner Natalie Wallin was so upset over the bank closing she started a community petition.
The petition gained 2500 signatures and was presented to Page MP Kevin Hogan and the local Chamber of Commerce.
Ms Wallin said since the bank had closed “a couple of people pop into her shop a week” to inquire about developments of a new bank but without any word she was beginning to feel defeated.
“The community is still very much interested and still upset about the whole situation,” she said.
“The consensus of the community is they definitely haven’t given up and are hoping something will happen, but they don’t have any direction to go.
“We all just hope that it will be another bank going into the former Commonwealth Bank building.
“It would be great if it does - the post office can’t handle the workload - nor is it their responsibility to handle the workload.”
The former Commonwealth Bank building still sits empty in the Alstonville Plaza and is up for lease though LJ Hooker Alstonville.
LJ Hooker has been contacted for comment.
Mr Hogan said he echoed the community’s sentiments of the community needing a bank and said the wheels were still in motion to secure another.
“I wrote to six financial institutions on behalf of the residents of Alstonville, regarding the provision of face-to-face banking services,” he said.
“I informed them that Alstonville, with a population of over 6000 residents, were losing their Commonwealth Bank branch in early December.
“I relayed the community petition had gained over 2500 signatures.
“They are currently all doing their due diligence on the proposal.”
Ballina MP Tamara Smith said despite assurances that services were still available via the post office, online or through mobile lenders she believes that “our town still needs a bank staffed by people qualified in banking.”
“Given the tyranny of distance and poor public transport in our region as well as other barriers for elderly folk and people living with a disability, disadvantage for regional areas like ours comes through the slow erosion of services like this,” Ms Smith said.
“I am aware that other banks and credit unions are looking at having a face-to-face presence in Alstonville and we are doing everything we can to encourage that.”