THE West London Tram scheme has been given the thumbs up by Ealing Council, despite opposition from residents.

Tension mounted outside Ealing Town Hall on Tuesday, June 21, as concerned residents protested against the scheme which, if implemented, would see Transport for London (TfL) installing a tram line from Uxbridge, via Ealing to Shepherd's Bush.

Pressure groups such as Save Ealing's Streets (SES) fear the installation of such a tram along the Uxbridge Road would force traffic to use residential streets as a diversion.

But despite these concerns, Ealing's Labour-led cabinet voted in favour of promoting the scheme by 43 votes.

Cllr Leo Thomson, leader of the council, said: "There's an enormous way to go before any trams can run along the Uxbridge Road but by signing the agreement we will be representing the interests of our borough for the months and years to come.

"We simply cannot allow Ealing's traffic problems to grow."

Tory cabinet members disagree with the plans. Cllr Will Brooks, Conservative cabinet member for transport and regeneration, said: "It's a waste of tax payers' money. Trams cost too much to build and run half-empty.

"Every single tram system in this country is failing its predicted numbers how can the tram system in Ealing be justified?"

Cllr Ian Potts (Ealing Broadway ward) added: "The maximum traffic reduction is ten per cent. Where are the alternative routes? The Uxbridge Road is such a spine for the borough that all the other areas will be affected."

Penny Wark, a resident of Mattock Lane and a spokesman for SES, said the day after the meeting: "We're not anti-public transport we're in favour of it. We just want the right scheme for west London one that will solve more problems than it creates.

"Signing up to the tram with TfL is of no benefit to local people. It will actually weaken Ealing Council's negotiating powers on the details of the scheme.

"It's significant that other councils along the route have not signed up."

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has voted "no" to the plans, which are to run a tram along the A4020 through Acton, Ealing, west Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes End.

A TfL public consultation last year showed 59 per cent of the 17,000 people questioned were not in favour of the idea.

A public inquiry on the tram will take place next year.