Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has sparked anger in the pub industry for taking holiday just days before controversial new licensing legislation come into force.

Just last month MacAskill decided to extend the deadline for operators to obtain their personal licences by two months over fears that thousands of pubs would be forced to close.

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), said that MacAskill must be confident the new regime will be introduced seamlessly.

“Everyone is entitled to time off, but perhaps going on holiday during the last few days before the biggest change in Scotland’s licensing laws in 30 years might raise a few eyebrows in light of the ongoing problems in the process,” he said.

The new legislation requires all premises to have a personal licence holder nominated as a ‘designated premises manager’ on the premises licence.

Debbie Taylor, chair of BHA Scotland, said in June: “We believe many establishments will be caught out by the timing of this Act and this will lead to closures and widespread job losses. There are very specific steps that an establishment must undertake and they are not fully understood.”

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 goes live on 1 September.

Scottish pubs given two months' leeway on new licences >>

Trade body pleads for moratorium on new Scottish licensing laws >>

More than 3,000 licensed premises in Scotland miss application deadline >>

By Emma White

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