A MASSIVE £30million has been spent on the West London Tram despite every borough along its route opposing the plans.

The latest figures obtained from the mayor last month reveal the scheme has cost £29.8million, even though opinion polls show residents are against the proposal and not a single piece of construction has yet begun.

Richard Barnes, London Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon, said: "The sheer cost of this scheme is staggering and it's now clear that because he has wasted so much money on the project the mayor feels he cannot back out, despite the lack of support from West London.

"Livingstone should bite the bullet, cut his losses now and listen to local objections before any further money is squandered on a scheme West London doesn't want."

The total cost of the unpopular project is an estimated £1billion.

But there are unanimous fears that any plan to introduce a tram along the Uxbridge Road will simply add to congestion rather than reduce it, with cars having to compete for the same amount of road space.

And residents in side streets say the presence of the tram will also force cars and lorries down smaller roads which will effectively become "rat runs".

Clare Mitchell, of Mill Hill Road, Acton, near the Uxbridge Road, said the proposals were "absolutely horrendous".

"It is frightening," she said. "It is the upheaval the diversion of traffic and the time it is going to take that I object to.

"The roads around here are very narrow. There was talk they were going to pull down buildings. They don't even know where the traffic is going to be diverted.

"Down Gunnersbury Lane at the moment the traffic is bad so what it will be like when cars are diverted I don't know."

Mrs Mitchell said people in Kew had been given literature about the plans before people in her area.

"It is a farce," she said. "And it is a ludicrous sum of money to spend. I was speaking to a financial advisor about how much it was likely to cost and they just laughed."

Since 2002, £14.6million has been spent on consultancy fees, including the production of reports and an additional £1million in survey work.

About £120,000 has gone towards advertising the public consultation in 2004 and the rest has gone to pay for staff costs and overheads.

Leader of Ealing Council, Cllr Jason Stacey, said TFL should stop "wasting money".

He said: "Ken does not even have the money for this scheme. There is no guarantee the Government will fund it.

"They are spending millions and millions on something which I don't even think will go ahead. The cost keeps going up and up and up.

"Surely a far better idea is to scrap the tram and focus on Crossrail."

But Chris Dean, project director for the West London Tram, said the scheme was essential to reduce congestion.

He said: "The West London Tram will be the best solution to reduce traffic congestion along the Uxbridge Road, and will provide a quicker, more efficient and environment-friendly transport service for west London.

"It will provide the additional capacity necessary to support the substantial population growth in west London over the next ten-20 years, and is key to supporting economic development between Uxbridge and Shepherd's Bush.

"Traffic is increasing in this area, and without a reliable alternative to the car, congestion will result in near gridlock. Detailed traffic modelling is taking place to protect local access roads from unacceptable increases in traffic.

"We are working to keep disruption to a minimum."

The three borough councils, including Hammersmith and Fulham and Hillingdon, are, however, gearing up for a legal battle with TFL to try to stop the scheme going ahead.

Officers at the town halls are preparing their case ready for a public inquiry, expected to be held some time in the next 18 months.

Lawyers will lay out the arguments for and against the tram and the inquiry will be headed up by an independent inspector who will adjudicate the merits of both cases.

Mr Dean said: "Our independent polling shows that the tram is popular in areas such as Southall where there are poorer links to employment and education. It is less popular in more affluent areas where car use is higher. Local people say that congestion and pollution are two of the worse problems in the area, and the Tram will help relieve these issues."

He added all construction compounds would be "temporary" and green spaces would be "fully re-instated".

He said: "For every tree that is removed, two will be planted."