Q: Would Councillor Merrett agree that the council's decision to sell the Barbican, and so absolve itself of virtually all responsibility for leisure in York, is a disgraceful decision for which the authority has managed to evade proper censure? N Lewis, Bishophill.

A: The future of the Barbican has yet to be finalised although the council will shortly be looking at proposals to redevelop the complex.

We have promised that any proposal will go out to full public consultation.

On the underlying issues it is worth noting that one of the key reasons for the redevelopment proposals came out of a demand from York residents for the council to improve and invest more money in swimming.

The council spends £10m a year on leisure but also takes its roles as a facilitator and not just a provider of direct leisure services very seriously. We currently spend £650,000 a year on providing facilities at the Barbican which is a very large chunk of the overall leisure budget.

It is always important to review the way the council operates - in fact we are obliged to - and when that was done with leisure, questions were raised about the cost of providing swimming at three pools across the city in the face of declining user numbers and diversification of leisure interests.

One suggestion was to close a pool to save on spiralling costs and the costs of maintenance and repair but when the council consulted over it people told us they wanted to keep open all three city pools, and that is what we are now working towards.

To do that we really do have to raise more revenue and capital to ensure the Barbican has a viable future - the pool is in dire need of modernisation and repairs at a time when the council is very short of capital to do the things it would like to across the council - so the council is looking at private investment.

In saying that, we recognise the enormous value of the excellent entertainment facility in the more modern building, and the many good smaller activities that go on in it, which we also want to maintain, even if some activities, like the bowling, may need to be provided for differently.

It is important to note that the council has already agreed money into to improve Edmund Wilson pool but our limited capital monies have to be shared between all the other council services such as those providing schools, roads and social services - and leisure cannot have it all.

The council remains committed to leisure but it never has been the sole provider. We have to move with the times and find new ways to support and foster recreation in the city - sometimes as direct providers and sometimes as enablers and facilitators providing practical and financial support to other providers.

Creating the Museums Trust is one area where we have tried to innovate. With all the other calls on the council's resources it was becoming difficult to invest in the service.

The new trust will be able to claim grants and support which the council was not allowed to access. As an authority we care passionately about heritage and leisure - our commitment to supporting York City and York Wasps supporters through their troubles this year for example.