Even when the Devereux family tried to do everything in plenty of time to comply and cope with the new regime, it all went pear-shaped. Stephen, Lesley and their daughter Simone run the delightful sounding Cocktails/Chocolate Box at Littleborough in Lancashire.

As far back as October Stephen and his daughter attended a town hall meeting to familiarise themselves with the new Act (among only 32 out of a possible 800 to do so). They decided it would be a good idea for Simone to get licensed so that she could share the responsibility with her father.

Simone duly signed up for the course, paid her £150, passed the tests and got the certificate on March 24. She immediately applied to the police for a Criminal Records Check, which was supplied by May 3. The next day they went down to the council offices with the forms partly filled in to clarify a couple of points. The idea was to transfer Stephen’s licence under his ‘grandfather’ rights and for Simone to have her own new personal licence.

The council were proving very helpful until they saw the certificate. Wrong one. (BllAB Level 2 National Certificate for Licensees (Off-Licence) awarded to Simone Devereux and dated March 1, 2005.) “So this seems ‘personal’ don’t you think?” asks Lesley. “But the licensing officer informed us that the government changed the goalposts on February 7 and now the certificate has to state ‘National Certificate for Personal Licence’.”

They went back to the tutor with several whys? and the tutor said she too had been informed in March that she would have to go on a new teaching course as her current one was now invalid. It would be another £150 for another course.

Their licensing officer, Rick Eckersley, has been very understanding and said that if enough people complained perhaps this silly wrinkle might be ironed out. But he added, worryingly, that the council was expecting a few more changes in the coming months and that the introduction of the new licences might have to be extended beyond November. Oh what a lovely law.

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