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CABE in talks to merge with Design Council

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Senior CABE officials are in talks with the Design Council about a proposed merger which would see the organisation continue its design review and enabling role with a smaller, core team

CABE, which has handed out redundancy notices to staff and will be officially wound up next March, confirmed discussions were underway with the Design Council, which is set to become an independent charity in the new year.

Although CABE was unable to officially comment on the rumours, sources at the commission said the link-up is now the organisation’s preferred option, but a deal could take another week to finalise.

The move would allow a ‘much-reduced’ core team to focus on design review and the enabling network would help support neighbourhood plans.

A Design Council spokesperson said: ‘We have been talking to [the commission] – along with other organisations.

‘We’re taking a broad-church approach and these talks are in that spirit. With all of the organisations, the talks are exploratory at this stage.’

CABE education enabler and urban designer Derek Latham believes the partnership ‘could be a good fit’.

He added: ‘Both design review and enabling are valued services so anything that reduces the number of quangos as the government wishes, but enables the services to continue, should be encouraged.’

It is understood CABE will brief its commissioners later today (9 December) on the progress of the discussions.

In October, the commission’s official government sponsor, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, axed its £5 million annual funding for CABE as part of the coalition’s wide-ranging Spending Review. Since then senior staff have been investigating various ‘phoenix projects’ in a bid to keep the commission alive.

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