Another bank closure as Westpac prepares to walk away from Beaudesert

BEAUDESERT business people and Westpac customers are disappointed by the bank’s announcement that it intends to close the Brisbane Street branch.

Beaudesert newsagent owner Susan Weymouth said the shutdown would affect business in town and this morning was inviting customers to sign a petition to prevent the proposed closure.

“If Westpac closes it will affect traffic on Brisbane Street,” she said.

“Customers come to town from Jimboomba and Boonah to do their banking and they often come into the newsagents or stop at the coffee shop.”

Ms Weymouth said she had started the petition this morning and within ten minutes people were lining up to sign it.

Westpac’s regional general manager for Brisbane south-west Craig Menery said the proposal was at the consultation stage, allowing feedback from staff members about options and preferences.

“The consultation period will end on Wednesday and a decision will be made on Thursday next week,” Mr Menery said.

“Should the proposal go ahead we would start forwarding letters to our customers on February 15.”

Mr Menery said because the bank was in a regional area, Westpac allowed a 12 week transition period, so the bank would close its doors on May 10.

Beaudesert resident Glenys Stephan stopped in to sign the petition and said there had been too many bank closures in Beaudesert.

“A town like this, we do need our banks,” she said.

“They are important for business people as well as the older generation who like to do their banking in person.

“It’s just ridiculous all these banks closing down.”

Main Squeeze juice bar owner Luke Tier said he agreed 100 per cent that the bank should stay.

“It’s important for us, we can’t go to another branch and get change,” he said.

“The nearest branch if this closes would be Browns Plains – a half hour minimum drive.”

Another spokesperson for Westpac said the move was a reflection on how customers were choosing to bank.

“In the past 12 months, less than two per cent of transactions were through our branch network, as an increasing number of customers enjoy the convenience of our online and mobile banking services,” he said.

“When we do make the difficult decision to close a branch, we take into careful consideration factors such as usage, location, proximity to other services and community needs.”

The spokesperson said Westpac followed Australian Banking Association protocols, including engagement with employees and customers.

“Westpac Group customers can access in-branch support and fee-free ATMs across Australia, as well as banking services over the phone, through our website, or via our mobile banking app.

“We have also committed $20 million a year, for the next three years, to our Bank@Post partnership with Australia Post to ensure our customers in regional and rural areas can continue to access over-the-counter banking services.

“We will be investing more than $120 million into our branch and ATM network this year, as part of our continued business strategy to provide our customers with the technology, tools and service to make their banking simpler and faster.”

Ms Weymouth said she was hopeful that something could be done to prevent the closure going ahead.

“Sometimes you have to draw a line and stand against the big guys,” she said.

“It’s worth a try.”