Harjit Singh, who runs High Heath News in Walsall, was going to Cincinnati for three weeks to attend a wedding. As this is being written a tenant is doing the relief management for him.

On the plus side, the stand-in is married to an ex-policeman and has done a personal licence course, but won't know if she has passed for another few weeks.

Harjit wanted to know what other precautions he could take to reduce any risk. There have already been a few suggestions. His local licensing officer said: "The mere fact that we're having this conversation shows that you are being responsible. And it would not be down to us to remove your licence. That would be for the police to do."

For that same reason, when Harjit offered free access to his CCTV the licensing officer added: "You're telling the wrong person."

The licensing officer suggested drawing up a contract between himself and the relief manager, and his own personal licence trainer suggested putting the arrangements in writing to the local authorities. It's always a good idea to put things in writing. 

Harjit doesn't have a refusals book - in the past (and he has 15 years of past) trading standards officers have said that refusals books are a waste of time as people could just make it up. True, but I suggested that he got one for his relief manager and that he talked to ACAS about the wording of any contract.

Of course, if the relief manager doesn't gain a personal licence, all it will mean is that Harjit is personally responsible, even if he isn't on the premises or even in the country.