People’s Champion - March 27, 2014

Picture: Allan Hutchings

13 great beer gardens in the Portsmouth area to enjoy a pint during the mini-heatwave

Have your say

EACH week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I’ve read there’s a possibility I could be paying too much council tax, and I can save pounds by getting my home rebanded downwards. How do I go about this please?

RB (internet)

A Careful though, you might be paying too little. Get it wrong and you could end up in a higher banding, and paying a lot more.

The first step is to check whether your home is in the correct band.

Just log onto the Valuation Office Agency’s website at and compare your valuation with similar houses in the neighbourhood.

If it looks as if you’re in a higher band than your neighbours in a similar property, you may have the basis of a claim. Beware of commercial firms offering to check your council tax banding for a hefty fee. You can do it all yourself online for free.

Q I’m a self-confessed couch potato and a tele-holic. At the moment I’m paying Sky over £80 a month for various satellite TV packages. I understand I might be able to get a better deal if I went over to broadband streaming. Have you any advice please?

JM (e-mail)

A The way technology is moving, dumping the set-top box and fixed cable connection for internet access to TV programming makes very sound economic sense.

On demand video streaming puts huge chunks of popular TV at your disposal, and will cut ££££s from your current satellite package deal. It’s also far more flexible and better tailored to your viewing.

Most modern TVs have internet connectability, and if you already signed up with an internet service provider, the next step for just a few pounds a month is to wirelessly video stream the content to your TV, laptop, or tablet.

Sky will flog you a NOW TV box at a one-off cost of £9.99 which will stream free TV content from the BBC iPlayer, or subscribe to their TV and film streaming service for as little as £4.99 a month.

There are other cheap streaming devices available that will bring movies and other free TV content services in your home, including Netflix, YouTube, Vevo, and Amazon Prime.