Post Offices, Banks And Libraries
Over the past few years we have seen many of our Post Offices, Banks and Libraries downgraded or taken out of the communities that they serve. Many of these institutions were seen as the central point and very important for the community.
The boards that run these organisations believe we should do everything on line now and the more they push for this to happen and the more they disenfranchise many of the elderly and poor. These decisions are more about the bottom line that what the community wants or even what is good for the community.
One of the most important facts that are being ignored in this decision making is that not everyone has a computer, knows how to use one or can afford to buy one. Another important fact is the lack of any reliable internet coverage in many rural areas
The banks are now doing away with checks which many elderly use and they are also closing branches and telling their clients to do it all on line.
How can they do this if they don’t have a computer or reliable internet coverage?
Many elderly people have been used to going to the Post office to pay their bills, registrar their cars, send registered letters and parcels etc.
But for many their local branch has been closed. Where there used to be a branch within walking distance of their place of residence, they now have to get someone to either drive them to a branch or take a bus. To use a bus they may have to change once or twice to get to a Post Office.
Those post offices which are still available are now often in the back of book shops or others shops that aren’t really seen as the centre of their community, hard to find and hard for some disabled people to access.
Post Offices, Libraries and Banks were once considered one of the central meeting places of their towns and cities, the main focus points of the community where people came to conduct their business but importantly to meet other members of their community.
The community is being asked to do more on line and the internet is and has been very important to those who can access it especially with Covid 19 lock down.
For some people the library was the place to go to use the internet, but for many, sorry it’s shut. If you are living in a rural area often the internet connection is very slow mostly across copper wire and unreliable or by satellite and expensive. Some are lucky and find there’s a cell phone tower that they can focus their antenna on, with high speed fibre connection not available yet and doubtful at best because of the cost of installing the infrastructure.
The post is still the equivalent of the internet for a lot of people with the difference being that it delivers and takes something that you can send, see, read and open which still gives lots of pleasure to people whereas with the internet you can only get words, pictures, texts.
Many of the small rural communities have relied on these services and when they close the towns slowly disappear due to the lack of these services and as these towns disappear, the fabric of rural New Zealand changes and we end up with more rural ghost towns.
Post Offices, Libraries and Banks are three of the essential institutions that make society go round and balance the social, environment and economy of New Zealand so as the rural areas are losing these institutions this is accelerating the shift away from country living to city life and adding to the pollution problems inherent in city living.