To Infinity and Beyond! Buzz Lightyear saved from drain


A lost Buzz Lightyear toy was amongst the many whacky items flushed down the loo in Westminster in 2019, according to drain cleaners.

The council is in the process of cleaning out hundreds of drains across our estates in the city, but warns residents that the job is getting tougher as more and more items are making their way into the system.

The Toy Story 4 star, more used to exploring the stars, found himself trapped in a sewer earlier this year.

Buzz might have thought “U-bend got a friend in me”, but unfortunately for hygiene reasons ending up in the drain meant he could not be returned to his owner.

However, if you have lost a Buzz Lightyear toy in Westminster this year, please let us know exactly where and when. If this matches up with where we found the space ranger, then the council would love to buy you a brand-new Buzz.

Cllr Andrew Smith, Westminster City Council cabinet member for housing services, said:

"Cleaning out drains helps us to avoid future problems, like leaks during winter.

We are putting residents first and have stepped up this type of proactive maintenance work since the decision was made to take CityWest Homes back in house to the council. Last year call outs over leaks fell by 48% as a result.

Finding Buzz was a big surprise to the team, but it just shows the challenge we are facing. Clearly this was a mistake, but sadly items like nappies and wet wipes are flushed intentionally, which causes huge problems."

The top five biggest drain blockers in Westminster include:

  1. Nappies
  2. Wet wipes
  3. Food
  4. Cooking oil
  5. Paint.

The last three are regularly poured down sinks, but people often don’t realise that the drain network just isn’t equipped to deal with a big build up – even if what you are putting down appears to be a liquid.

Over 8,000 properties on Westminster estates have benefited from drain clearance so far this year.

Drains can corrode, and a build-up of limescale causes pipes to narrow and become less efficient. As part of the programme drains, gutters and downpipes have been cleared and water is jetted through.

A small camera is then sent down pipes to check their condition and identify cracks, which can result in leaks. If damage to the pipe is found, a resin-based substance is sent down to surface coat the pipe and repair. This means that no pipes need to be removed, which saves time and reduces inconvenience to residents.

The programme is now into its second year – in winter 2018 resident call outs over issues likes leaks tumbled by 48% – at a time when complaints were historically at their highest.