IN WHAT many see as yet another nail in the coffin of their town, Bowraville residents were shocked to discover the Bananacoast Community Credit Union had closed its doors two days each week.
With nothing more than a notice in the window, residents who arrived at the bank last Tuesday and Wednesday found there was no longer any service. And just to rub it in, the ATM outside was also on the blink.
Bowraville Newsagent Veronica Lamb said there were a lot of surprised and unhappy locals.
“The BCU is here to provide a service to the community but this feels like they are trying to kill off Bowraville,” Ms Lamb said.
“As a business owner I am particularly affected because it makes it more difficult to get change, and I also have to carry extra money over the days I can’t bank.
“A lot of elderly people can’t get to Macksville or Nambucca to do their banking and for those who can, my concern is they will then get their papers and groceries there and bypass us altogether.”
Colin Kemp, manager of the Bowraville Community Technology Centre, which is housed behind the BCU branch, said there were already 39 signatures on a petition.
“People are annoyed not only about the bank’s hours but also that they have to rely on a crummy ATM that is often out of service by the afternoon,” Mr Kemp said.
He said the community was calling for the bank to open for at least a few hours daily.
In a statement to the Guardian, a BCU spokesman said the decision to reduce the hours at Bowraville was based on an assessment of the business generated and the costs associated with providing the service.
“Reducing the trading hours was not a decision we made lightly,” he said.
“However, a review of community support over the last five years and the transactional history for the last two years, demonstrated transaction activity was not sufficient for BCU to maintain the existing services in terms of trading hours.”
He said the BCU had to balance their commitment to providing banking services to regional Australia with the increasingly onerous compliance costs.
“We apologise for the inconvenience and will continue to monitor the business generated in Bowraville and respond if business increases.”
He said BCU was investigating concerns about the downtime of the Bowraville ATM.
Bowraville BCU is open Mondays, Thursday and Fridays from 10am-4pm.