I think some of you regard this column as a retailer variation on University Challenge.

Howard Coffey, who sent me painful questions I couldn't answer over VAT (what are the tax implications with the multiples' persistence in selling under-priced alcohol? C-Store, August 20), followed this with another stumper. How do you get the council to sell you the freehold after it says it won't dispose of commercial leases but is busily transferring them to other companies?

"Have any of your readers/followers experienced problems with their council leases being passed over to 'holding companies' or housing associations?" he asks.

He has been trying to purchase the freehold on his property (Budshead General Stores) from Plymouth County Council for a number of years without success. "The reason being 'they do not intend to dispose of commercial properties', yet in November 2009 they announced in the local press that all council-owned domestic properties were to be transferred to such an association, no mention of commercial properties!

"Then in February 2010 I received a letter from said association saying that my lease had been transferred to them and they would be taking over in full from November 2010. Despite numerous letters to the council, association and local councillors, I still haven't had a response."

I went through my extensive property files but could not find anything on the 'right to buy'. I recommended that Howard consults a local chartered surveyor. They are good at these sort of negotiations and they will not be ignored by the council or the housing association as they would be regarded as 'official' and 'professional'.