Obituary: Hedley Marshall

Arthur Hedley Marshall, businessman: born Chinnor, Oxfordshire 6 July 1904; City Treasurer, Coventry 1944- 64; Chairman, Royal Institute of Public Administration 1952-53; Senior Research Fellow in Public Administration, Birmingham University 1964- 74; Chairman, Committee on Highway Maintenance 1967-70; Visiting Lecturer, City University 1977-83; married 1933 Margaret Longhurst (died 1987; one son); died Canley, Coventry 15 January 1994.

HEDLEY MARSHALL was an outstanding leader in local government, public finance and public administration from the 1940s to the 1970s. His achievements were equally exceptional in a career as a professional local government finance officer, as a public administrator advising government, and as an academic.

Marshall was the son of an itinerant Methodist minister, the Rev Arthur Marshall. He was educated at schools in Gloucester and Bilston, at Wolverhampton Grammar School and the London School of Economics.

Marshall was City Treasurer of Coventry during challenging rebuilding years, from 1944to 1964, having been Deputy City Treasurer since 1935. Previously he had served Wolverhampton, Reading, Stockport and Woolwich Councils. Professionally and academically, he equipped himself in the early years of service by qualifying with the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants (first place) in 1930, as a member of the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors (1934).

He set demanding standards for himself; always planning for the years ahead for Coventry, for public finance and for local government. He was an outstanding leader in an unusual way. He was not physically overbearing. He had the presence of a kindly, ever-lively professor or of a flute player in a world-class orchestra.

As City Treasurer of Coventry he attracted some of the best young people in the public finance profession. He delegated responsibility to them. At the same time, he led the reform of education and training of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants of whose council he was a member from 1946 to 1964 and its President in 1953. His efforts contributed to the foundation of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

His work on the wider public administration scene was no less impressive in its scope and volume. He was adviser to the Sudan Government in 1948-49 and to the Government of British Guiana in 1955.

His analytical and intellectual approach led him to a second career, as an academic. He was a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, from 1962. He served the Royal Institute of Public Administration. After retiring as City Treasurer of Coventry in 1964, he became a Senior Research Fellow in Public Administration at Birmingham University and helped to establish the Institute of Local Government Studies. He wrote and lectured extensively and was the author of Local Authorities Internal Financial Control (1936) and, with JM Drummond, of Consolidated Loan Funds of Local Authorities (1936).

Music and musical journalism was more than a recreation to Hedley Marshall. He was an accomplished pianist, and his house was a centre for amateur music. He played a part in specifying the organ for the new Coventry Cathedral. He was the erudite music critic of the Coventry Evening Standard for 30 years from 1946, writing under the pseudonym 'MML' ('Municipal Music Lover').