The urban renewal crusader - Geoffrey Seeff

Geoffrey Seeff (Lib Dem), Chingford & Woodford Green
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green, is a chartered accountant-turned-urban regeneration consultant who is challenging former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan-Smith for his seat. Seeff Seeff told AccountingWEB his priority was to get funding into cities by any means – whether from private investment or the public purse.  In particular, he is lobbying Lib-Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable to consider the merits of the US model of Tax-Financed Infrastructure (TFI) as one way to boost inner cities. In recent weeks, the party hierarchy has responded warmly to these ideas – “The party is very open to initiatives that will work,” Seeff said.

Unlike the Conservatives, he is not quite so keen to dismantle the Regional Development Authorities. While admitting to be slightly uncomfortable with the undemocratic nature of many RDAs, he felt that London’s agency, which reports to the Greater London Authority, provided a good example of democratic accountability.

Seeff was surprised to hear that nearly 50 accountants were in the running for seats in the general election: “I’d hate to think that out of a Parliament of 650 that 50 MPs were accountants,” he quipped, “but it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

He continued: “I think all 50 candidates will have something in common. Professional accountants are trained to analyse, challenge and question, but they have to do it constructively whether it’s a business plan or development proposal.

“Being a statutory auditor doesn’t necessarily teach you how to look at value for money or effectiveness, but as your career develops you have to develop those capabilities as a professional appraiser. I imagine the other 49 of my colleagues will approach the task in the same way.”

CV: Seeff trained as a management consultant with Coopers and Lybrand and aspired to become a jazz violinist and tenor saxophonist only to discover that the wider world was underwhelmed by his talents. After taking a masters degree in accounting and economics followed by doctoral research in the field of corporate social responsibility, he subsequently became a director of consulting with BDO Stoy Hayward and was seconded in 1986 for 18 months to the Department of the Environment where he headed up the Grants Appraisal Unit. He has since specialised in the economics of urban regeneration.

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