Bank’s assurance withdrawn, leaving council stumped
AFTER assurances that ANZ would keep its branch in Kilcoy four years ago, Somerset Regional Council has been left stumped after the bank's decision to now close the branch.
The loss of Kilcoy's ANZ bank branch is expected to result in serious economic strife in the Somerset, leaving only three banks to service the entire region.
Four years after the closure of its Toogoolawah branch, the Kilcoy ANZ will close at 4pm on February 27, with the bank claiming they were unable to renew their contract for the building.
The move disappointed Somerset councillors, who were previously assured the Kilcoy branch could be relied upon to continue servicing the community.
"I remember the community meeting we had when they closed the one in Toogoolawah," Cr Dan Hall said.
"Some people from ANZ came down and they assured us that Kilcoy would not fail. There's going to be a hell of an economic downturn after this."
Though ANZ have given an assurance their ATM will remain, the loss of a physical bank branch to conduct business will be a significant blow to residents and businesses in more isolated areas of the region.
"I think it's going to have a wider impact, not just to people in Kilcoy," Cr Helen Brieschke said.
"People in Linville, Moore, and Toogoolawah all bank there. Even an Esk business still banks in Kilcoy."
This is the latest in a long line of bank closures in the Somerset, which has left only a Bendigo Bank branch in Lowood, and an NAB in Esk.
Of the big four banks, ANZ is the only one which no longer holds an agency agreement with Australia Post to offer its banking services through post offices, a service which more and more Somerset residents rely on following past bank closures.
Mayor Graeme Lehmann passed a motion to write to ANZ, pleading with them to secure a new location, or at the very least retain an ATM capable of making deposits.
"Even if it closes for a while, if there's light at the end of the tunnel, it would be welcome news," he said.
Cr Cheryl Gaedtke said she had already broached the idea of relocating with ANZ, and had been told it wasn't a clear-cut solution.
"When I suggested it, I was told it wasn't so easy," she said.
"It would take significant funds to make a new site that was safe for banking."
Several councillors were unimpressed by this claim, pointing out ANZ had profited immensely in the last financial year, and could easily afford to carry out these works if they were truly committed to supporting their customers in the region.
Councillor Sean Choat said this was an extremely inopportune time to lose another bank, coming at a time when many businesses and property owners were still recovering from fires and now floods.
"We've seen the season change, and fresh greenery come in through the region, but people need to understand the economic recovery may take longer," he said.
"You look at Lowood, you look at Toogoolawah, and you wonder which one's next. How long before there's no banks left in the Somerset?"