A LONDON private hire driver was arrested for careless driving after colliding with another car outside a grammar school.

The crash, at the junction of Blenheim Chase and Middlesex Avenue, in Westcliff, has reignited the debate over private cabs operating in Southend under Transport for London (TFL) licences.

The road, close to Westcliff High School for Girls and Westcliff High School for Boys, was closed for hours while the emergency services cleared the scene. Police, paramedics and firefighters were all called at about 7.15pm on Thursday.

The private hire vehicle, a silver Toyota Prius, smashed into a traffic light pole after colliding with a blue Vauxhall Mokka.

Passer-by Colin McLion, 47, of Manchester Drive, said: “The lady in the blue car was going straight on from Kenilworth into Blenheim Chase and the cab was turning right from Blenheim Chase into Middlesex Avenue.

“There were two fire engines, two police cars and some ambulances.

“You could see the Toyota driver was still in the car talking to medical professionals before he was taken out. He seemed really shaken more than anything.

“He had crashed into one pole while the other vehicle, the blue car, had crashed into another pole in the centre of the road.

“The passengers of the blue car were still being treated by the emergency services. Everyone was taken to hospital.

“Everyone was conscious and luckily did not look too badly injured.

“If this crash had happened when the schools were kicking out if could have been very dangerous.”

The TFL-licensed cab is not linked to Uber, but is thought to have been picked up by a customer using another private hire phone app.

Southend taxi driver and campaigner Mark Jennings said: “It is a fact that drivers from out of the area rely heavily and sometimes completely on their sat navs. We often go out in Ubers in the borough to test them and they have not been able to find their way to the hospital. When I asked to be taken there, we ended up in Hamlet Court Road.

“The reason people want a local firm is because the drivers know the area and know where they are going.”

The driver and passenger of the Vauxhall, who are both from Leigh, were taken to Southend Hospital with minor injuries.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Police received reports of a road traffic collision at around 7.15pm on Thursday Officers received calls about collision between a Vauxhall Mokka and Toyota.

“The driver of the Toyota, a 60-year-old man from Ilford, was uninjured and was reported for careless driving at the scene.”