WITH 86 per cent of the world's children breathing toxic air, according to Unicef, and the Royal College of Physicians 2016 figure of 40,000 UK deaths annually from air pollution now regarded as a serious underestimate, it is vitally important that our politicians take urgent action to reduce those deadly airborne toxins generated by vehicular traffic in Scotland's cities.

The last thing we need, however, is a self-congratulatory festival of "open streets" virtue-signalling by an Edinburgh council whose own policies are anything but enlightened ("Auld Reekie is streets ahead in the mission to slash car fumes", The Herald, July 8). This is the council, after all, which rejected a powerful recommendation by its environmental health officers to reject a planning application for an 11-storey hotel on the Cowgate which will exacerbate air pollution at a location where World Health Organisation standards are already being breached.

The same council also seeks to introduce a Low Emission Zone which will only cover the central areas between Queen Street and the Meadows, thus displacing polluting traffic to much more populous residential areas like Marchmont and Stockbridge. Meanwhile, by encouraging yet more speculative house building around the periphery it will encourage yet more commuter traffic.

If the council really wanted to take this bull by the horns it would take a lesson from other cities and institute a fares-free bus policy which would provide every citizen with a bus pass, a move which, at a stroke, would probably eliminate at least 30 per cent of private car use.

David J Black, Edinburgh EH3.