A.D.J. Flowerdew

Transport economist and planner
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The Independent Online

Anthony David John Flowerdew, management scientist, economist and operational researcher: born Salisbury 7 November 1935; senior planner, GLC 1966-68; Deputy Director of Research, Commission on the Third London Airport 1968-70; Senior Lecturer in Urban Economics, LSE 1971-77; Professor of Management Science, University of Kent at Canterbury 1978-89; partner, Marcial Echinique & Partners 1977-85, chairman 1985-89, managing director 1989-91; married 1959 Jenny Lewis (died 1978; one son, one daughter), 1979 Lesley Williamson (*ée Murdoch; two sons); died Canterbury 28 July 2007.

A.D.J. Flowerdew was a consultant, planner and enthusiast in the fields of transport economics and operational research (OR) – the use of scientific methods to solve organisational problems. His areas of expertise provided a unique resource for city planning authorities around the world wanting to link transport planning with land-use issues for balanced development. Tony Flowerdew believed in combining theory with the ability to make decisions. He was an avid thinker, consulter, arguer, competitor, dancer and assured wearer of widely ranging hats – metaphorical and literal.

Anthony David John Flowerdew was born in 1935 in Salisbury, son of Douglas Flowerdew, a soldier (and later a rector), and his wife, Sheila. After Eton (where he went on a scholarship), he read Maths and Moral Sciences at King's College, Cambridge. His fellow student and friend, the writer A.S. Byatt, remembers his outdoing those taking English in quotation quizzes.

He began his career in the operational research department of the National Coal Board as part of his National Service. Before universities developed OR courses, the public sector led the application of quantitative and analytical techniques to questions of production and management, and Flowerdew's years at the NCB saw him develop into an expert in the field. After five years in consultancy, he went to the Greater London Council in 1966 as a senior transport planner.

From 1968 to 1970, he was Deputy Director of Research for the Roskill Commission investigating the siting of the envisaged third London airport. The seminal work of the research team and the commission advanced the frontiers of cost-benefit analysis for project evaluation – new in Britain for major projects. Flowerdew smoothed the relations between the researchers and the lawyers at the public inquiry, his verse commentary on the proceedings serving as a particular aid to good humour.

After the inquiry, momentum built up for locating the airport at Maplin in Essex. Among his concerns about the project, Flowerdew cited disruption to bird life, access links, and proposals for a new industrial area and city (for the workforce). In Parliament, Anthony Crosland backed his line that more research was needed. The plans were dropped in 1974, and Stansted expanded. Subsequently, Flowerdew advised on a second airport for Sydney.

In 1971, he joined the London School of Economics where, with two colleagues, he developed a stimulating master's course in urban economics. From 1977, he was the economist at the Marcial Echenique and Partners consultancy, providing models as tools for policy-makers in transport around the world. Combining land-use and transport issues allowed for intelligent policy-making in, for instance, the expanding city of São Paulo – which was acquiring half a million residents a year in the late Seventies. Instead of criss-crossing the city with motorways at vast expense, Flowerdew showed how good public transport could prevent gridlock, while land use could be tailored to fit with transport developments.

When he worked as a consultant, lively and productive discussions would continue into an evening's socialising. His strong ideas would not always fit clients' views, but he would convince them with illustrations matched to their own areas and lives. When working in a foreign country, he would always learn some of the language.

Moving to the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1978, appointed to the inaugural Chair in Management Science (where he remained until 1989), Flowerdew enjoyed interacting with students and was interested in their future careers. In 1987 the Duke of Edinburgh visited the campus, and, having inspected ranks of computers, opined that management was an art not a science. Typically, Flowerdew initiated a lively exchange (raising the much-questioned term Military Intelligence). The ensuing invitation from Prince Philip to visit the nearby military establishment at Ashford led to lasting links with the university.

Tony Flowerdew lectured at UN conferences, and worked on EU transport projects. His report Congestion and Public Transport Finance (1993) recommended road-pricing and pollution tax to fund public improvements in the worst-hit cities. In 1995 he led an international team of specialists for the World Bank's study of Guatemala's national transport. Lectures in Japan on economics and environment in 1997 were the starting point for a still unfinished book on these subjects.

Dan Flowerdew