The Commonwealth Bank is set to close its Umina Beach branch on August 26, with many in the Peninsula community left blindsided by the decision.
Peninsula Chamber of Commerce President, Matthew Wales, said he was “extremely disappointed” to hear of the closure.
“This is yet another sign that the big banks care little for local town centres as they continue to strive to cut costs and drive profits up often at the expense of local communities,” Wales said.
“Umina Beach is one of the busiest and most vibrant retail shopping strips on the Central Coast yet it appears that the Commonwealth Bank is more interested in saving dollars than looking after the interests of its local customer base.
“Sadly I’m not surprised as we have seen a cavalcade of banks and buildings societies slowly withdraw from the main street with only brand ATMs offering any form of banking service.”
Wales said this now leaves Umina Beach without any front line banking services.
“You can be sure that the Commonwealth Bank will offer up the usual banking excuses such as falling counter transactions, decreasing cash deposits and withdrawals and higher internet usage,” he said.
“This does nothing for the health and vitality of local town centres and is a sad reflection of changing times and big bank attitudes.”
Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the decision will have an impact on surrounding businesses.
“Many of my constituents, particularly those who don’t use internet banking, need this branch to pay bills, deposit cheques and do their daily budgeting,” she said.
“It is part of their social connection to their community.”
Commonwealth Bank Regional General Manager, Norm Swift, said operational reviews were ongoing.
“We regularly review our branch locations across Australia to help us make informed decisions on where to open new branches, where to renovate or upgrade existing branches, and in some instances where to close branches,” he said.
“Following a recent review, we made the difficult decision to permanently close our Umina Beach branch.
“Transactions at this branch have dropped by half over the five years before the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve redeployed the vast majority of staff from branches that have closed.
“Our people from Umina Beach branch will be offered redeployment opportunities, including roles supporting customers over the phone and online, or other comparable roles where it suits them.”
He said there would be no job losses as a result of the decision.
“We recognise some senior customers prefer to do their banking face-to-face,” Swift said.
“For Umina Beach customers, we have a nearby central branch 4km away at Woy Woy.
“We’ve found 31 per cent of customers from Umina Beach are already visiting Woy Woy branch.
“We understand this change may affect the way some of our customers’ bank, and the team at Umina Beach branch are available until Friday, August 26 to help customers find the solutions that best suit their needs.”
Swift said customers could continue to make withdrawals and deposits including passbooks during normal business hours at Australia Post’s Bank@Post service at the Umina Beach Post Office.
“Customers can also access their accounts 24 hours a day through NetBank or the CommBank app,” he said.
“We are also available for general banking enquiries, through our locally-based contact centres on 13 22 21, every day between 8am and 8pm.”