Nelson MP Nick Smith is disappointed that Stoke’s current replacement banking hub has been delayed from an expected opening in March until November.
“The closure of Kiwibank’s Stoke branch was very controversial 18 months ago with it being particularly tough on seniors who need in person banking services. We were delighted when the large petition triggered a commitment last year to establish a new banking hub in Stoke with services for customers of all six trading banks. The service was to be opened early in 2020. We are disappointed to be advised this week the service will now not be opened until November” Dr Smith said.
The New Zealand Bankers Association has advised Nelson MP and Grey Power Nelson that the six banks, ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Kiwibank, TSB and Westpac remain committed to the Regional Banking Hub pilot but the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown has delayed the new service until November. They have advised it is a pilot on a new type of banking service that needs to be trialled during a period as normal as possible.
“The delay is disappointing for seniors as it will have been two years by November this year from when Kiwibank closed. The problem of accessible banking services has been exacerbated during lockdown and by the recent decisions to no longer accept cheques. We accept some delay was inevitable from the Covid-19 emergency. It is better late than never but we want to encourage the banks to move as quickly as possible” Christine Tuffnell President of Grey Power Nelson said.
“I am encouraged that discussions are progressing constructively between the banks and the new Stoke Pharmacy. The New Zealand Post services are working there well. If we can get a banking service for all six banks in Stoke under this new hub model we will have secured the best possible outcome for the community” Christine said.
“My nervousness is that this banking hub was first proposed for “early 2020” but was then shifted to May. It has now been delayed until November, but the banks are also saying this timeline is “subject to review” Dr Smith said.
“This new banking hub is not just important for seniors but for Stoke businesses who have lost customers since the bank closure. These retailers have taken an additional hit with the Covid-19 lockdown. The new banking hub will help Stoke businesses and I have written to Ministers and the Banks advocating for the November date to be brought forward to help with the post Covid-19 recovery” Dr Smith concluded.