The new licensing laws will come into effect on Thursday, November 24.

Licensing minister James Purnell made the announcement last week and at the same time restated the August 6 application deadline for retailers wishing to transfer their existing licence to the new system on an ‘old for new’ basis. Anyone missing this deadline will have to apply for a new licence from scratch, and any retailer who has not transferred their licence or gained a new one by November 23 will be trading illegally.

Calls to extend the deadlines were rejected. Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Theresa May said: “The Licensing Act is turning into a bureaucratic shambles. Licensees need more time to deal with the extra red tape and higher costs, while local authorities are already saying they would not be able to cope.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive David Rae said: “We remain extremely disappointed about the uncertainty, delay and lack of clarity in how the government has approached the implementation of the Act.”