BLACKBURN with Darwen will enter the new millennium with the borough's first ever Asian mayor.

Councillor Salas Kiani, left, who represents the Audley area was last night chosen to be the district's first citizen during the 1999-2000 council year - provided he is re-elected in the May elections.

Councillor Kiani said: "I am very pleased to be appointed and I intend to do my best to work for and represent the whole of the community during my year in office. I am glad to be given the chance to improve the already good relations between the communities in the town."

"The present mayor, Coun Oldfield, will be my deputy mayor and I am sure she will be a great help to me.

Council leader, Coun Malcolm Doherty said: "Salas Kiani has got there by the usual route of hard work and service to the council and to his ward.

"I know from my time as mayor that the Asian community value and respect the office of mayor a great deal.

"Coun Kiani was elected to the council in 1991 and was the longest serving councillor who wanted to be mayor who had yet to fill the post.

"I think this will be a very good thing for the borough and for the whole community with people living together and doing their best for the area.

"Coun Kiani will be the mayor when the millennium comes around and it will be a hectic time. But he is very much prepared for that and we all wish him well."

The new mayor sits on the housing, community services and social services committee at the council and is the chairman of the environmental services sub committee.

He previously represented the cathedral ward in the town before boundaries were redrawn when Blackburn with Darwen Council won unitary status.

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