To the big end of town, Narooma is the small town who roared – protesters say they have won a stay of execution on the planned closure of their NAB branch.
The group was celebrating on September 10 after they said they had been told the bank would work to keep its branch open until 2020, instead of closing this month.
Businessman Phil Constable said he was delighted to learn the bank would then consider if any business growth in that time was enough to keep the branch open permanently.
He said he was told there would be “a review of operations if they can grow their business”.
NAB executive general manager of retail Krissie Jones told the Narooma News on September 10 the community had made its feelings clear.
“In our conversations with the community, the passion the locals have for Narooma is clear,” Ms Jones said.
“We have listened to the community’s concerns and want to work together to see what we can do. We know that the Narooma community wants the NAB branch to stay open, and while we have seen business at this branch consistently decline, we want to see what we can do together.
“We will be working in partnership with the community to try to turn the NAB Narooma branch around - we are asking the Narooma community to back us.
“We know to be a better bank we need to do things differently, so we wanted to try this new approach with the Narooma community.
“We will be working with the community to see if we can consistently grow the business from now until 2020 – we would like to stay in Narooma.”
Mr Constable offered “huge congratulations to (NAB) for listening to the community and for recognising we are a growing community”.
“They got a feel for the passion, for what the town is and for what the bank means to the town,” he said.
“It was fantastic.”
Mr Constable said he was optimistic of the long-term business outlook for Narooma.
“We are anticipating there will be further business coming to town,” Mr Constable said. “We will have better shopping facilities.”
He said a meeting would be held with bank officials and stakeholders to discuss “how we may grow their business for them”.
“We are very excited and are talking to businesses,” he said.
Older residents would be the big winners of the branch keeping its doors open on the Princes Highway.
“It is sensational for elderly people,” Mr Constable said.
At a public meeting in August, a petition with more than 1500 signatures was presented to NAB representatives. About 40 people attended and many spoke passionately and persuasively about why they needed the branch.
Small businessman Jason Hextell refused to take no for an answer.
“The quality and passion they got out of that meeting” was instrumental in the NAB decision, Mr Constable believed.
He thanked Eurobodalla Shire Councillor Rob Pollock who chaired the meeting “with utmost professionalism” and Bega MP Andrew Constance, who took the bank to task for walking out on a rural town during a drought.
Mr Constance raised the issue in the NSW Parliament.
When the closure was announced, the Chamber of Commerce was unimpressed.
More details as they come to hand.