'Virtual' planning committee meeting cut short over YouTube 'terms of service breach'

A local authority in West Sussex saw a live broadcast of a planning committee meeting cut short last week after online video sharing service YouTube advised that it had breached its terms of service.

A screengrab from the broadcast of Horsham District Council's planning committee. Image: YouTube / Horsham District Council
A screengrab from the broadcast of Horsham District Council's planning committee. Image: YouTube / Horsham District Council

Horsham District Council held remote meetings of its northern and southern planning committees using video conferencing technology last week.

While a three-hour broadcast of the authority’s planning committee (south) meeting took place without problems, coverage of the planning committee (north) meeting was disrupted after an hour when YouTube cut off the video feed midway through the discussion of a planning application.

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A message on the website said the video had been removed "for violating YouTube's terms of service". 

Despite the interruption to the committee broadcast, councillors went on to approve the application for six semi-detached homes in Maplehurst.

A full council meeting was broadcast on YouTube the following day without incident.

It is unclear why YouTube removed the video. Planning has asked Horsham for further details of the incident and what measures the authority had put in place to prevent any repeat of it but the council had yet to respond by the time of publication.

The authority has adopted a series of measures intended to avoid disruption to its planning service during the coronavirus outbreak.

As well as holding virtual committee meetings, the council offers pre-application advice via the Skype video conferencing platform and has said essential site visits will be conducted in line with social distancing guidelines.

Horsham Council is not the first local authority to face disruption to online committee hearings since legislation allowing the practice was passed last month.

Earlier this month, South Somerset District Council's planning committee meeting was disrupted by online 'trolls' using abusive language and playing sounds from a pornographic film.

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