By 3 News online staff
Westpac has been accused of ignoring the will of the community of a small East Coast town, who ran a determined campaign to save the only bank left Ruatoria.
Closing the branch means some locals now need to drive up to three hours to get to the closest brick-and-mortar store.
More than 3000 people signed the petition to save the branch, and more than 100 locals turned up to discuss the proposal at a town hall meeting.
FIRST Union national organiser Tali Williams says bosses of the Australian-owned bank claimed falling transaction rates as a reason for closing the store.
"But when we asked how many transactions would be needed to keep the branch open they didn't know. The local community was never given the information it needed to help save its last bank," Ms Williams says.
A proposal to keep the bank open as part of a co-location with a local business was turned down, she says.
The closure also means lost jobs in the town.
"The branch workers themselves are gutted. This wasn't just a job for them; it was a community service," she says.