What is the problem, who is responsible and who is going to fix it? That’s quite often the three questions you ask yourself for almost all the issues that address us in Inverclyde.

The first is normally the easy question to answer. Whether it is anti-social behaviour, pot holes, crime, speeding, parking, the state of Greenock town centre as a ‘retail centre’ or much larger challenges as opposed to problems such as child poverty. 

We know what the problems and the challenges we face are and believe me plenty of people make sure I know about it.

That almost always prompts the question of ‘What are you going to do about it?’

Over the past few weeks a lot of people have been highlighting the problems of pot holes and gritting. I’m often asked ‘ did you know those gritters drive along the road with their lights on pretending they’re gritting, but there isn’t any grit coming out the back of them?’. 

This I am afraid highlights the above question of who is responsible. In simple terms, there are two types of road – not counting privately owned ones — in Inverclyde, the ones the council are responsible for and the ones Transport Scotland are responsible for. 

The council grits the roads and fixes the potholes on the roads that we are responsible for and Transport Scotland grit the roads and are het for the potholes on the roads they are responsible for. That is why you quite often see a council gritter driving on a road and not actually gritting it, because it is someone else’s responsibility.

I have a question for you though: Do you care who grits the roads or who fixes the potholes as long as the work gets done to the standard you expect? 

For an area the size of Inverclyde, we can’t keep on operating in the small silos we do. We often talk about shared services but we only ever think about sharing services with the people that look like us instead of sharing services being based on what we do. 

I don’t think you should need to care about who is responsible for getting something fixed, the important thing is that it is getting fixed. Everyone with a vested interest in Inverclyde should be working together. 

Sometimes I’m reminded of the story of the piermaster.

There was a massive queue of people waiting to get on the ferry and the ferry wouldn’t leave as it was tied up. When asked what was wrong, the piermaster said ‘I tied the boat up but the person that unties the boat is off today’.

As we continue to come under pressure regarding the way we fund and deliver our public services we need to make sure that we are actually sharing the resources we have at our disposal in order that we get the most from them.

Inverclyde has many problems we know about and many challenges we are still to meet. If we keep going on about our business and just look after the bit of the road we are responsible for we will not get to where we want to as fast as we are capable of.

Incidentally, I don’t think the roads in/out and through Inverclyde that the council aren’t responsible for are of a good enough standard so I’ve written to Transport Scotland to ask what work they intend to carry out to improve this, or indeed if they want to work with the council to do improve them together.