THOUSANDS of licensees and owners of premises selling take away food face a real danger of having to shut up shop in November.

Huge numbers of traders needing personal or premises licences missed the deadline - and now face a race against time if they are to be able to continue in business after November 24.

By missing the August 6 cut-off date for submitting applications for the new-style licence, they have set themselves up for a bureaucratic assault course.

This will potentially involve completing a 20-page application form, undergoing a criminal record bureau check and attending a two-day course with an examination.

Jill Peard, of Matrix, a business that helps applicants, said many people did not realise they were required to get a new-style licence, even if they had been trading for years and had no plans to change their business hours.

She said getting a licence to sell alcohol could take several months.

"People need to have a real sense of urgency if they are to continue to trade after November.

So far, Herefordshire Council has only received about half of the premises licence applications it is expecting and the situation is even worse with personal licences to sell alcohol where up to 2,000 applications are thought to be outstanding.

The premises licence is needed by outlets even if they do not sell alcohol but want to sell take away food after 11pm.

Herefordshire Council, which opened especially for late licence applications on deadline day, Saturday, August 6, has said they will take up to three months to process.

They have warned that any business that does not have a new premises licence by November 24 will not legally be able to open.