Sebastopol's only bank will close permanently, leaving customers no choice but to trek into the CBD for face-to-face customer service.
The Sebastopol branch of the Commonwealth Bank will not reopen after closing last May in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic 14 months ago.
At the time, Commonwealth Bank said the branch would be closed for up to six months with the call made to deal with the increase in phone and online banking.
In that time, Sebastopol's post office moved to Delacombe, forcing residents of the suburb to travel across town to bank or pay bills in-person.
While the branch's ATMs had remained open for the last 14 months, they will close at 1pm on Thursday, August 5.
A sign on the front door of the branch directs customers to the bank's three remaining branches in Ballarat, Ballarat West and Wendouree or Australia Post shops in Delacombe, Sovereign Hill and Redan.
Commonwealth Bank regional general manager David Castle said a recent review found the Sebastopol branch had a 44 per cent drop in transactions over the five years before the pandemic hit.
"We've found that 35 per cent of customers from Sebastopol were already visiting these other branches before the branch temporarily closed in May 2020," he said in a statement.
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"Broadly, around 60 per cent of customers who regularly used a temporarily closed branch before the pandemic have already begun to visit one or more of their nearby trading branches.
"For customers who prefer face-to-face options, there are four Bank@Post outlets within five kilometres available for personal and business banking transactions... This includes withdrawals, deposits and bill payments including passbooks during normal business hours. The closest is Mount Clear LPO (along with Redan LPO, Sovereign Hill LPO and Sebastopol LPO)"
Mr Castle said there would be no job losses from the closure.
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"Our people from Sebastopol branch are supporting our customers over the phone and online as they have been since May last year, and they will be offered permanent roles in those teams or other comparable roles where it suits them," he said.
Glenda Gill from Ringin's Butchery, next door to the bank, said the closure was another hit to Sebastopol.
"The whole time, you go in, and I know staff aren't told everything either, but you're told it's going to reopen and all of sudden there's a sign on the door saying it's not reopening and the ATMs are going," she said.
"Sebas is now the dead end of town because no one wants to know anything."
Linda Curmi from nearby hair salon South Side Synergi said the closure would have the most impact on the area's elderly residents.
"A lot of them had to get cards to start off with and they'd never used an EFTPOS card before so they had to learn that, then they get taught how to use the ATMs and now they're gone too. I think it is quite disappointing for the elderly that live around here," she said.
"It does affect everyone's businesses because a lot of people do something while they're going to the bank, or they might come in and make an appointment while they're here. I think it affects everyone's business."
Member for Ballarat Catherine King called the closure a 'disgrace'.
"The Commonwealth Bank has used COVID as cover to close a vital service for the Sebastopol community. This is another disappointing day for the Sebastopol community," she said.
"I don't think anybody believed the bank when they first announced a 'temporary closure'. Sadly, our doubts have been proven right."
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