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ACE and BCB plan merger to 'strengthen consultants' voice'

COMPETITION FOR members and a desire to create a single lobbying voice has prompted a proposed merger between the Association of Consulting Engineers and the British Consultants Bureau, it was revealed this week.

The Association of British Consultants would represent consultants across all sectors of British industry.

Consultation documents have already been sent to the 650 members of the ACE and the 250 members of BCB. If the plan is accepted, a ballot of both memberships will be held in March next year with the result announced at an extraordinary general meeting on 30 March.

Both organisations insist the merger has mutual benefit for members. BCB currently represents consultants spanning the engineering, legal and financial professions, among others. It specifically exists to assist firms seeking work overseas by offering help through lobbying, market intelligence, trade missions and networking. The ACE's membership covers only engineering consultants, and focuses largely on UK business.

Around 40 construction consultants are members of both organisations. However, many - particularly those with large overseas workloads - are known to be unhappy about committing time and money to both organisations. Mott MacDonald has recently followed Hyder by pulling out of the ACE to concentrate on BCB commitments.

BCB chief executive Colin Adams said that combining the organisations would give UK consultants a much stronger voice. 'The BCB's role is to help its members to win work in the UK and abroad. The new organisation would be able to provide this service to all consultants.'

Adams added that for ACE's smaller members, joining 'would enhance their ability to network'.

This view was shared by ACE chief executive Nicholas Bennett. 'I am very conscious of the protection that ACE can give small members,' said Bennett. 'Under the proposed structure ACE members will get all the services they get at the moment at no extra cost but will be able to network in a bigger organisation.'

If the merger goes through, both secretariats would have to reapply for their jobs and new London premises found.

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