Alcohol licensees were up in arms as Licensing Minister James Purnell announced that the new licensing laws will fully come into effect on November 24.

Independent retailer Jonathan James, who runs three forecourts in Cambridgeshire, told Forecourt Trader: “We’ve really got to push for that date to be extended. With the media coverage that there is, I think the Minister will get a backlash that he can’t help but deal with.

“The fact that the official government guidelines hadn’t been published until June, to expect everybody to then have it rolled out within the best part of nine weeks is quite ridiculous.”

Retailers who miss the August 6 deadline necessary to claim their ‘grandfather rights’ to transfer their current licence will now have little over 100 days to gain a new personal licence, advertise their licence application in a local newspaper, complete yet more forms and send them to eight different authorities, and then hope the council processes the application in time, according to the Association of Convenience Stores.

“In essence, James Purnell has said that if retailers fail to meet this deadline they will have little or no chance of retaining their licence in time for the new system to go live,” said ACS chief executive David Rae. “Unfortunately this cavalier approach to regulation, inflicting bureaucracy and cost on retailers, is typical of Purnell and his predecessors.

"By stubbornly keeping to the November 24 deadline, the government has consigned many retailers to losing their right to sell alcohol. This will threaten the viability of many local shops, and that will damage communities throughout England and Wales. Even more outrageous is Purnell’s decision to lay these orders during the summer recess.”