Community hopeful on Bendigo Bank branch

Community members who attended an information session last Wednesday night remain hopeful that a Bendigo Bank branch could still be launched in Stawell.

The Stawell community remains hopeful of opening a Bendigo Bank branch.

The Stawell community remains hopeful of opening a Bendigo Bank branch.

Despite only a handful of residents showing their support for the concept at Wednesday night's meeting, Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin, said the door was by no means closed.

"It was a little disappointing to only see a handful of residents attend the session last week," he said.

"My personal opinion is the branch may struggle to get up, as there doesn't appear to be strong community support. That's not to say it won't happen, it's just my opinion."

Cr Erwin was behind a push to secure a Bendigo Bank branch in Stawell more than a decade ago, after the Westpac Bank closed its Main Street branch. The Bendigo Bank concept never got off the ground.

"There did seem to be more momentum back then, but it never went ahead," he said.

"I would certainly like to see it get up this time around, but it might struggle from here."

The information night last Wednesday was organised to give residents an opportunity to show their support for having a Bendigo Bank branch opened in Stawell.

Residents who did attend were provided with information so they could learn more about the prospect of establishing a community branch.

The push followed a show of interest by the Bendigo Bank in establishing a community branch in Stawell, but its success was totally reliant on community support.

Cr Erwin said with only a handful of residents turning out the information session, it was an indication the community was not in support of the concept, although those residents did show a commitment to being part of a committee to continue driving the concept.

"The next step is to tap people on the shoulder to form a committee," he said.

"Those residents who did attend the session last week put their hand up to be on the committee, so it's a start.

"A committee probably needs 12 or 15 people so they need to find a few more and then they will continue working through the process to see if it can happen. If a committee cannot be formed, then the opening of the branch probably won't go ahead.

"The principle of having a Bendigo Bank branch in Stawell is good, as it puts money back into the community, but it does need more support from the community if it is going to happen."

The basic concept is that communities from local publicly owned companies enter into a commercial franchise to run a Bendigo Bank branch.

Bendigo Bank provides the banking infrastructure and licensing, while the community runs the branch operation and generates customer support in the area.

Bendigo Bank and the local community share the revenue, with local surpluses available for investment in the community via grants, sponsorships and dividends to local shareholders.

If the community decides to establish a branch, it will be able to purchase shares in the local company formed to operate the community bank branch of Bendigo Bank.

Before the formation of the company, the local banking committee seeks pledges of financial support from the community.

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