A councillor is in line to become the leading newsagent in the country.

Suleman 'Solly' Khonat has been elected the vice president of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents - and will take over as chairman in June 2009.

Coun Khonat, who was elected as a councillor for Shear Brow ward of Blackburn last month, will speak on behalf of the federation's 18,000 members and lobby the government.

The 48-year-old worked as a supervisor in a carpet factory before becoming a newsagent in 1988 with a shop in Devonport Road, Blackburn.

He now runs Burnley Road News and Redlam News in Bank Top.

He said: "A lot of things have changed over the years in the industry, but it is still an essential pillar of the community in the same way that post offices are."

Coun Khonat said he was "delighted" to have been voted into the vice president's role by the delegates at this month's annual conference in Torquay.

He added: "It is a very big honour for me, but I am not surprised people voted for me. I have been very active in the community over the years."

Delegates at the conference called for measures to help newsagents who are victims of violent crime and to ensure newsagents do not suffer the same decline as post offices.