TRANSPORT for London has spent £24.5 million on the controversial West London Tram scheme, despite the possibility that it may not go ahead.

The Ealing Times uncovered the figure after issuing a Freedom of Information request on TfL.

All three boroughs along the proposed route are against the scheme, with the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone even saying in May that the plan would be reviewed if a new public consultation was unfavourable.

But millions have been ploughed into the unpopular project.

The other boroughs affected are Hillingdon and Hammersmith and Fulham.

Speaking at his weekly press conference after the local elections, Mr Livingstone conceded that if public opinion continued to move against the West London Tram the project would have to be reviewed.

Peter Hulme Cross, a member of the London Assembly's transport committee and long-time opponent of the tram, said: "Ken conceded that the next opinion poll will determine the future of the tram.

"It is therefore vital that it is a fair poll, giving residents along the route the chance to support other alternatives to solve congestion issues."

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

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

The 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.

"The next five or six years will see attention drawn to east London because of the Olympics.

"Surely a far better idea is to scrap the West London Tram and focus on Crossrail.

"There is no need to continue with this unpopular scheme other than for political ego."

Project director Christopher Dean said the spending was in line with the expenditure they would expect on the development of "such a major scheme".

The final consultation on the tram project finished weeks ago, but Cllr Stacey said they were still waiting for the results which were being moderated by TfL.