Retailers often keep tempting piles of money in their safe and will be only too aware that they could be targeted at any time. Jeeta Bhadal, who runs a Londis store in Leeds, was horrified when his local licensing authorities told him that he had to publicise his home address on the wall of his shop to identify himself as the personal licence holder.

This means that anyone so minded could show up at his house in the middle of the night, aim a shotgun at him and march him off to where the money is. The bright spark behind the idea at Leeds licensing said she had checked it with her legal department.

I spoke to Shane Brennan at the ACS, who is something of an expert on licensing matters, and he says it’s not the first time he has come across this misinterpretation of the new rules. Brennan says don’t display your home address in the store – you can black it out for security reasons. I reckon you could keep the paperwork under the counter and if the trading standards officers arrive, show them where you stow your details. Who could object to that? Shane adds that another anomaly arising from all the fiddly form-filling is that it asks what your trading hours are and in some instances this has been interpreted as a request for change of licensing hours.

Well, it was all too much for Michael Mercer, who now runs the unlicensed premises Westhill Stores in Hednesford, Staffordshire. He gave up his licence on November 24. His profit from booze was only about £200 a year, so it was more of a service to his customers, really. It’s not worth it now. “Is it only me?” asks Michael, “or is this widespread?”

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