A Moray councillor has branded the local authority’s treatment of a group of disabled volunteers at an awards ceremony “abysmal”.
Fochabers Lhanbryde member Sean Morton said he was furious when he found out five of them missed out on a council-run celebration because there was no proper wheelchair access to the venue.
The women – who were being recognised for their work with support group Moray Duo – received their awards at a separate presentation in a back room at Elgin Football Club because the building’s main hall was only accessible by stairs.
The 75 other volunteers received their awards in the main social club a floor above them.
Moray Duo chairwoman, Sylvia Stobbart, said the “embarrassing” situation was made worse as they were segregated in a cold room and had their wheelchairs measured to see if they would fit through the fire doors.
Moray Council later apologised for the choice of venue.
Councillor Morton said yesterday: “To be asked by the council to take a project forward, to do it so well and then suffer the indignity of receiving your award separate from those who are not disabled is just abysmal.
“Worse, to leave disabled people in a room they say was freezing, and then have someone come to measure their chairs, is degrading.
“What was a positive story about the work of these women has been tarnished by this council’s inability to behave in an inclusive manner.”
Mr Morton said he would now lobby for the awards to be presented to the volunteers again in front of the full council by way of an apology.
He also plans to table a motion aimed at ensuring the authority only uses accessible venues for functions.
He also wants it to commit to backing the One In Five campaign – a national movement designed to encourage and increase political participation among disabled people in Scotland.
Mrs Stobbart said last night: “I think Councillor Morton has some good ideas there, and I look forward to discussing things with him further.
“I do expect that the council will ask to see the five of us to discuss what happened.”
Jamie Szymkowiak, founder of One In Five, said: “We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss Moray Council signing up to the One In Five charter.
“Breaking down barriers for disabled people and being as inclusive as possible is important in politics as it is in every day life.”