IHS Chemical Week


A Tribute to Ashok Kumar, Member of U.K.'s Parliament, Chemical Engineer and Industry Supporter

5:53 AM MDT | March 16, 2010 | By STAN HIGGINS


It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Dr Ashok Kumar MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. He was well respected by his colleagues in the Process Industry not only locally but nationally as well. He has helped both North East of England Process Industries Cluster (NEPIC; Wilton, U.K.) and the Chemical Industries Association (CIA; London) for many years.

Kumar: Tireless campaigner for the U.K.
processing industries

When I first took on the role as CEO of NEPIC in 2003 he called a meeting with me to stress the importance of the cluster policy that he had fought for; at a time when the U.K. government had all but given up on manufacturing industry and put all its eggs in the service sector basket! He knew this was wrong and against the thinking in government at that time fought for greater support of manufacturing. He cajoled the head of the head of the DTI of the time, Lord Sainsbury, to support the formation of Industrial Clusters in general and NEPIC in particular, which I am sure he felt was his baby, because he told me so several times. He has of course won the day regarding manufacturing with the clear change in policy and much greater support of industry coming from central government.
Whenever we asked for his help he always found a way to do it, even over his last week he helped us gain ministerial access for one of our member companies, even though they were not in his constituency. Ashok did it for us because as an engineer he understood the problem and was able to best articulate the issue to his non technical ministerial colleagues.
Even today, the day after his death, he was supposed to host a meeting in parliament for the Solvent Association, currently chaired by NEPIC member Mottie Kessler of Banner Chemicals. His death has certainly brought sadness to that occasion but his colleagues have insisted that the meeting should go ahead as planned. Dari Taylor, an MP from a neighboring constituency has agreed to stand in for our revered friend. To my knowledge he never turned down the opportunity to support the chemical industry and was a tireless worker on behalf of his constituents.
We will very much miss his enthusiasm for our sector, and the level of support he gave to NEPIC within parliamentary circles. Ashok hosted several memorable occasions for NEPIC in Parliament and we will miss his cheerful personality as well as his industrial and political insight.
Our sympathy is with his family at this time.

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