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As many people will have read the APPC's Management Committee recently recommended to our membership that we should merge with the PRCA. As Chair of the APPC I wanted to set out a little bit of background to this and to provide a little more detail about the plan moving forwards, in terms of what will be happening over the next few months. Firstly, to say that I have decided to remain impartial throughout the process of what I'm sure will be a vigorous and passionate debate about the future of the organisation. In the Management Committee's majority vote to support the merger I and one other person abstained in order to ensure that we can all move forward whatever decision is taken by members.

The background:

The decision which led up to this came about after the PRCA approached the APPC with a proposition for a merger. This actually first happened before my time as Chair, but having taken up the role of Chair mid-2017 I felt that it was at least worth exploring in more depth in order to fully understand what the opportunities for a merged APPC - PRCA could be. This led to a presentation by PRCA Director General to the Management Committee in February of this year, followed by question and answer session. After the meeting it was agreed that myself and former APPC Chair, Michael Burrell, would receive further representations from the Management Committee on the PRCA's proposal, and them come back to the next meeting with a suggested response to the PRCA. This is what happened and, following a series of meetings with the PRCA, the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed and it was this document that was put to the Management Committee for a vote last month. You can read the full Memorandum of Understanding on our website.

The vote:

I would encourage all APPC consultants to spend a few minutes reading the document and discussing it with colleagues. There will inevitably be a lot of questions that people have and it's my job as Chair to oversee a process that encourages debate on both sides and helps our members to understand what the change could mean for them.

The merger proposal will be put to a vote of members at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), on 8 October 2018. It is intended that an official APPC communication to members, containing arguments for and against, will be circulated during the second week of September. The formal notice of the EGM will be issued on 17 September and will include a proxy form which all member organisations will be asked to complete to name the person the organisation nominates to vote for them at the EGM. In order to encourage participation at this important meeting, for those organisations that cannot attend in person, the form will allow members to nominate the chairman of the meeting or another person as their proxy and indicate which way they wish the proxy to vote. We will be circulating further details on the voting process nearer the time.

Finally, as some of you will know, before the Management Committee voted for the APPC - PRCA merger, we commissioned former member of the Committee, Emily Wallace, to undertake a strategic review of the APPC. A number of people have asked to see Emily's review, which we have made available on our website. The Management Committee felt that this was a very productive exercise and many of the recommendations could be realised through the proposed merger.

Paul Bristow, Chair, APPC