A hit and run which left a taxi driver with serious injuries followed an argument between his colleagues and an unlicensed cabbie, it has been claimed.

Paramedics were called to Epping High Street shortly after 1am on Saturday after reports of a hit and run.

The victim, 36-year-old Saeid Chaudhari, was taken to hospital with injuries to his neck and arm.

Taxi drivers are claiming he was intentionally mowed down.

Chairman of the Epping Forest Taxi Association, Azid Sanu, 26, said an argument broke out after an unlicensed driver was seen working outside Club 195 and asked to move on.

Mr Sanu added: "This unlicensed driver did not take this advice kindly, which led to him raising his voice and threatening the licensed driver who went to advise him.

"At this time, other Epping Forest taxi drivers saw what was going on and they started to approach them

"When the unlicensed driver noticed other drivers are approaching towards him he decided to leave and headed towards Loughton.

"At this time there happened to be another licensed taxi driver who was crossing the road, who was not involved.

The driver was then hit by the side of the car.

Mr Sanu, who lives in Poplar, claims that as many as five unlicensed cabbies work the Epping area each night.

He said: "If you go on to Epping High Street when the clubs kick out you will see the problem, there are cars everywhere.

"Because there is no taxi rank people cannot tell the difference between drivers with or without a licence.

"It is so dangerous to get into a taxi without a licence.

"Even the police cannot enforce it because there are cars everywhere and it is hard to tell the difference."

Loughton councillor Ken Angold-Stephens said that although taxi ranks are needed in Loughton and Epping, it is taking time to find an appropriate location for them.

He said: "Action will be taken against any unlicensed driver that is brought to the attention of the council or the police.

"The police and licensing officers did a thorough check in Loughton on a Friday evening last January, but no unlicensed taxis were identified.

"We are aware, however, that this does happen from time to time and we would advise anyone seeing such a vehicle to take a note of its number plate and report it to the police and the licensing office. 

"The police and the council enforcement team are planning similar checks on a Friday or Saturday evening in Epping shortly."

Police have confirmed that there was a disagreement between cab drivers before the incident.

A spokeswoman said that the men involved are "believed to be known to each other".

Thirty-six-year-old Saeid Choudhari from East Ham suffered injuries to his neck and arm after being hit by a car.