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What do you think about the ICE/IMechE merger?

Analysis - Positive, negative, undecided - NCE readers have been voicing their opinions on the possibility of a union between the two institutions.

OVER 600 readers have been to www. nceplus. co. uk over the past week to tell us whether or not they are in favour of a merger between the ICE and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

While not a scientific study, the poll currently suggests 64% against a union, 31% in favour and 5% undecided. The poll is still running so go to www. nceplus. co. uk to have your say.

However, anecdotal evidence also suggests that so far ICE members are reluctant to see a joint institution emerge.

CE President Gordon Masterton welcomes interest in the discussion, but cautions against taking straw poll results too seriously.

'Even if the poll was 90% in favour of a merger I wouldn't advise members to take the results too seriously as it is not auditable or verifiable.

For example, it could be susceptible to multiple votes, ' he says.

'However, we are interested in getting more quality data and want to see the discussion and contributions from NCE readers continue.' Certainly ICE members have been keen to tell NCE what they think of the proposals - both positive and negative.

For example, design team leader Bruce Walton points out that, 'the ICE has far more stringent entry requirements for membership than all of the other major institutions.

'I take pride in knowing and advertising this, and also in knowing that you have to gain entry to ICE membership, rather than being a member by default due to your degree.

'I would not want to have the value of my MICE status diluted through appeasement of members from another institution by making entry to a combined institution in line with their requirements.' Other also fear that merger might not best serve the interests of ICE members, creating, says project manager Philip Wells, 'such a large organisation that it would lose sight of its role in supporting individual engineers'.

Civil engineer Peter Wadsworth also doubts the value of merger and reflects on that between municipal and civil engineers in 1984.

'This time a merger is even more irrelevant, ' he says.

'While it could have been argued that municipals and civils had some similarities, mechanicals and civils have virtually none.' Ron Herd points to the recent Halifax, Bank of Scotland merger as a situation that did nothing for customers and fears the same would happen with a joint institution.

'People at the top of many organisations seem to have this fashion of wanting to create larger and larger organisations, using the excuse of economy. But these organisations do little for the people at the bottom of the tree, ' he says.

Much of the argument in favour of the merger comes down to the hope that a bigger institution will have a larger voice. Civil engineer Paul Jones believes that 'it would help to consolidate the profession of engineer, maintain standards and give us [engineers] a stronger louder voice'.

Steve Orchard agrees: 'Engineers would benefit from a greater voice in the community and in politics. Therefore, in principle, I am in favour of the move.' Company chairman Geoff Clifton also feels it's in the best interests of the profession. 'I am strongly for a merger. A unifi ed voice for engineering is strongly needed, ' he says.

And consultant Adrian Lunn goes even further and says that the more institutions that come together the better:

'I am a little more radical than most members. Not only am I in favour of the merger, I think it is now the right time to perhaps consider an even bigger picture with an engineering institution that encompasses electrical, structural, civil and building engineering professionals, ' he says.

Gary Kent believes that more consultation with members should be sought on the merger agenda.

'Council should have run a poll of the current membership as to whetherthey should have even opened a dialogue about a possible merger. I am not against a consultation between the two, but that is as far as I would want to see the issue progressed.' But some of you remain undecided. Civil engineer Simon Lawrence says: 'I am open-minded and could potentially be persuaded o the contrary, but I am currently unconvinced that the as yet unstated or quantified benefi ts will outweigh any disadvantages and potential loss of identity.

'And that's before we even begin to discuss which buildings we should occupy in London!'

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