BENDIGO Bank’s decision to close its Ingham branch has been described as a ‘devastating blow’ by a champion of local business.
The money lender announced in an email to customers yesterday that it would be shutting down its business in Hinchinbrook.
It is the third Ingham bank closure in three years, with ANZ and Suncorp bailing in 2018.
The news has sparked an outpouring of frustration and anger in Hinchinbrook, with many customers stating that they will now change banks.
One local business women, who works tirelessly to promote local commercial ventures, has spoken out about the closure.
Rachael Coco, who is the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said: ‘It’s devastating for any community, let alone a small community.
‘Chamber’s hearts are going out to the staff. They are two very passionate and positive women. We feel terrible for them.
‘I hope people don’t go into the bank and take their frustrations out on the staff – they are as much affected as anyone.
‘The closure was a surprise. Bendigo had invested in a new ATM and done renovations recently.
‘When the last two banks closed in 2018, Bendigo said: ‘We are investing in the community. We are here to stay’.
‘It’s a commercial decision. I can’t speak on behalf of Bendigo.
‘I think these things become a self-fulfilling prophecy, when you make it easier for people to bank on-line.
‘Any time I’ve been in there I’ve found that they’ve been quite busy.
‘I respect that it’s a commercial decision.’
Two full-time employees now have to wait to see if they are offered a transfer to a different branch.
Mrs Coco is concerned about the declining population in Hinchinbrook and states that she would like to see the employees remain in the Shire.
She said: ‘We don’t want to lose two families. I hope they stay.’
One local businessman says he will now need to change both his personal and business accounts, as he requires a ‘face-to-face’ bank, rather than solely an on-line facility.
Tony Iafano, who owns Hinchinbrook Bus Service, said: ‘I’m going to have to change now. You’ve got to have that face-to-face.
‘I was with ANZ and changed because they closed.
‘The first thing I thought [when I heard Bendigo was closing] was, what a headache.
‘I’ve got to change all my personal and business accounts.’
The former Gilroy Santa Maria man’s bus company does school runs, and some students pay cash when they board.
He added: ‘We need the ability to go in and make cash deposits.’
The rugby league enthusiast, who will play for the Herbert River Crushers today when they face the Burdekin in their first fixture of the season, added: ‘It’s a rigmarole. I don’t know who I’ll change to – but whoever it is, I hope they don’t close too.’