On Wednesday 9th July, children from Liverpool’s Schools’ Parliament took part in a mock trial to review the case of a speedy driver, a ‘Mr Speedy Gonzales’.
Cllr Dan Hughes, Mayoral Lead for Youth and Citizen Engagement was on hand to lend his support – acting as the courtroom judge to give his verdict on the case.
The trial, which took place in the Council Chambers at Liverpool Town Hall, saw an actor play ‘Mr Speedy Gonzales’. Gonzales was caught breaking the 20mph speed limit on Liverpool’s residential roads.
Mr Gonzales advised a packed court of Liverpool Schools’ Parliament members that 20mph is too slow. The ‘defendant’ was convinced of his right to drive at a speed he believed was, ‘appropriate for the conditions’. In the mock trial, he chose to waive his right to a defence and acted upon his own council.
Cllr Dan Hughes donned a judge’s wig and robe to help get him into character for the role and was even given a gavel to allow him to ensure ‘order in the court’.
Young people from Liverpool Schools’ Parliament acted on behalf of the Crown by taking on the roles of both prosecution and the jury. Liverpool Schools’ Parliament is an organisation comprised of young people who wish to make positive and constructive changes to their city. It is recognised as an official committee of Liverpool City Council.
After prosecution and defendants had made their cases, the “jury” then deliberated and delivered a decision as to whether Mr Gonzales was guilty of breaking the law or not.
This activity is part of The 20 Effect, an initiative being delivered by Liverpool City Council Transport / Highways and Public Health Departments, aimed at encouraging drivers to travel at 20mph on our residential roads. The 20 Effect is helping to raise awareness of the dangers that come with driving at high speeds, helping to reduce the high number of road traffic collisions in the city. This unique re-enactment allowed the young people to engage with The 20 Effect campaign and reasons for the speed changes, whilst at the same time understanding any objections it may receive.
Mayoral Lead for Youth and Citizen Engagement, Councillor Dan Hughes who played the courtroom judge said;””The trial was very well received and the children were given the necessary information and statistics to use in their argument against driving at speed on our residential roads. We want other groups and schools to take learning from this and get involved themselves by hosting their own trials. The 20 Effect Trial offered the young people a unique opportunity to experience a “real life” situation which helped them to understand what the 20 Effect campaign is all about.”
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy said;”The 20 Effect Trial has given us an opportunity to not only influence the behaviour of tomorrow’s drivers in an interesting and engaging way but also to teach the young people to be safer when crossing the roads. The 20 Effect is a great campaign, helping us educate people about the dangers of driving at speed. Just one person injured or killed on our roads is too many and we all have to work together to eliminate collisions in Liverpool all together.”
Chief Inspector John Hogan, Head of Merseyside Police’s Roads Policing Department said; “The 20 Effect campaign has been running now for two years and young people in Liverpool are showing their commitment to changing attitudes and opinions around the 20mph limits. We must remember that these youngsters are our next generation of drivers. The fact that they are already getting to grips with safe driving and speed awareness is a great thing. Merseyside Police is committed to seeing a reduction of collisions on our roads but we can’t do this alone – we need motorists to be on board to help make our roads safer for all by driving responsibly and adapting their speeds to suit the roads and conditions.”