Householders will be asked to seal the fate of York's swimming pools as the city council launches its biggest public consultation.

Council leaders announced the consultation this afternoon following the long-waited publication of the leisure services department's review of fitness and sporting facilities.

The review says that dry-sporting facilities such as fitness gyms are increasingly popular, while swimming has declined.

Questions likely to be asked include:

Should the council do nothing and close one or more pools as they deteriorate or seek redevelopment proposals to raise capital and make improvements?

If capital can be raised, should the council rebuild the Barbican and repair the other pools, or repair the other pools and spend remaining money on things like sports halls, club facilities and parks?

If the Barbican is rebuilt, should it be a traditional pool or one with a more modern design, for example with a beach area for children?

People may also be asked whether, if insufficient capital can be raised through redeveloping the sites, the council ought to divert money for rebuilding the Barbican from other projects such as school rebuilding, roads and pavement repairs.

The consultation will also include the use of focus groups for detailed discussion.

Council leader Rod Hills said today: "We are not ruling anything in or out, but clearly we only have so much money to run services and invest in services, and there may well be difficult choices.

"From the start of the review I have always said that when the report was published it would go out to consultation and that there would be no decisions until the residents have had their say.

"What will happen will be the people's choice. At the end of the day, it is the people of York that will make the decision."

But Liberal Democrat leader Steve Galloway said he was extremely sceptical about any consultation exercise.

"We believe that the Labour group has already made their minds up to close at least one pool," he said.

Conservative leader John Galvin said: "What are we going to do if the response from people is that they want all the pools kept open and modernised - along with a whole range of other things ?"

The vice-chairman of the Barbican Action Group, Dorothy Nicholson, said it had been promised consultation on the wording of the questions.

They also wanted to know what the arrangements would be for public input to meetings under the council's new cabinet-style government, adding: "People must have the right to speak on key issues like this."

Fiona Evans, of the Yearsley Action Group said consultation was always welcome, but this should have been done earlier. "Surely the strength of the campaign and over 26,000 signatures have demonstrated to the council that it's an unpopular proposal, and do we need to spend a lot of money on reaffirming that?"