Newham mayor denies claiming residents too lazy to gain Olympics jobs

The mayor at the heart of the Olympics jobs storm has denied calling his residents idle – but insisted they must raise their game or lose a massive opportunity.

Sir Robin Wales was yesterday reported as saying people in the London borough of Newham were too lazy to take advantage of hosting the Games.

An estimated 50,000 jobs will be up for grabs in east London as construction firms race against time to build the infrastructure for the 2012 event.

But Sir Robin told stunned delegates at a Commission for Racial Equality conference this week that Newham residents were unlikely to benefit, as they could not get out of bed before 11am.

In a statement today, Sir Robin denied using the word idle, but said he made no apology for his comments.

“As the employment market becomes ever more competitive, no-one in Newham or anywhere in Britain can assume they will be first in line for jobs,” he added.

“There are many reasons why some people do not work. It may be that the benefits system will leave them worse off if they take a job; it may be that they lack the necessary skills; it can simply be a matter of psychology – some individuals lack confidence and drive because they have little or no experience of work.”

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