By David Gold at City Hall in London

london 2012_olympic_park_07-02-12February 7 - London Assembly member Andrew Boff today insisted that Londoners are not convinced they are truly benefiting from the Olympics, during an exchange here with Neale Coleman, the director of London 2012 coordination for the Great London Authority (GLA).

The dispute occurred during a London Assembly Economy, Culture and Sport Committee hearing about the opportunities on offer to Londoners to find employment and develop their skills as a result of the Games.

Unemployment in the United Kingdom has been rising steadily since the economic crisis began four years ago, hitting 2.68 million in January, the highest figure for 17 years.

As part of its legacy plan, London 2012 pledged to deliver economic opportunities to the boroughs around the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Newham, one of the Host Boroughs of the Olympic Park, has the highest unemployment figures in the capital, and Boff said that not enough was being done to ensure that those from the area were finding employment and being given roles directly within the Games.

"People are not convinced the Olympics are benefiting Londoners," he insisted.

Coleman defended the recruitment drive and in particular the role of London 2012, though he admitted there were "big challenges".

Also under fire over the claim that the tourism industry will suffer during and after London 2012, and thus waste some of the effort spent getting unemployed people into work, Coleman insisted that he thought "London would be different".

Mary Conneely, the chief adviser on employment and skills for the Host Boroughs Unit, also pointed out that 5,000 out of a total of 8,000 job offers to the unemployed had been made to people living in a Host Borough.

But there was a dispute as to the veracity of these claims, with Boff suggesting that there should be more thorough checks to ensure those being offered jobs who are recorded as being from a Host Borough are genuinely from where they claim.

Dee Doocey, the chair of the Committee, summed up that the "jury was out" as to whether those "unemploye" people offered jobs really were out of work and if they were genuinely from where they say they are.

Boff added that he hoped that the East End of London would not be let down in this regard, saying that they had been previously when the decision was made to switch the Olympic marathon route, which had been set to pass through parts of the East London originally.

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