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ACE/BCB abandon merger vote

LAST MINUTE manoeuvring by senior management has scuppered merger negotiations between the Association of Consulting Engineers and the British Consultants Bureau.

Disagreement over terms for the coming together meant that proposed voting by members of both organisations at the ACE's annual general meeting and at an extraordinary general meeting of the BCB last week had to be abandoned. This had been expected to simply rubber-stamp the deal.

Both organisations still insist they are committed to reaching agreement to form the new Association of British Consultants. However, it is understood that the BCB bosses pulled out of the deal four weeks ago after failing to agree the method of selecting the chief executive and secretariat for the new organisation.

It is also understood that some sections of its 40,000 strong multidisciplinary membership still fear their voice will be diluted when joined by ACE's 30,000 civil engineering members.

BCB director Rory O'Connor could only confirm that negotiations were continuing and said: 'Some parts of the deal had not been entirely ironed out but it is still recognised that it is a good idea.'

However, new ACE chairman Jim Dawson, who took over from Tim Foley at the beginning of June, appeared more disappointed by progress: 'During the last two years we have striven to seek closer working relations with other consulting associations, but so far without success,' he said. 'We will keep on trying.'

ACE is now thought to be keen to get on with its own initiatives, with the merger a second priority to working for its members. 'The key issue, of course, is our resolve not to allow all the successful initiatives of this Association to become diluted,' said Dawson.

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