Top government officials have again quashed fears over delays on licensing reform today.
Outlining plans for a 12-week consultation on responsible drinking, licensing minister Richard Caborn, culture secretary Tessa Jowell and home office minister Hazel Blears said the plans for the new Licensing Act remained on track.
Also speaking at the meeting was the Local Government Association chair of safer communities board Sally Powell, who said that councils were ready and waiting for the licensing reform start date.
"Bring on February 7," said Ms Powell. "We are more than prepared for it. It is true that the reform is a step into the unknown for many of us but we have worked hard to makes sure we have things in place."
During the briefing the government ministers emphasised the positives of the reform to the national press.
Ms Jowell said: "Our current licensing laws are creaking under the strain. That's why we're reforming them - to make our towns and cities safe, not a free for all."