AN urgent cross-party summit is needed to discuss the High Street and market area of Newport, say opposition councillors.

The call comes after more than 1,100 people signed a petition asking for stalls rent at the market to be reduced, and for facilities, including the toilets, to be improved.

Conservative councillor William Routley said: “We hear a lot of talk from the council, but we’re not seeing any real action.

“I’m calling on council leader Debbie Wilcox to hold an urgent cross-party summit on the High Street and market”.

But council leader Debbie Wilcox hit back, saying the council is “constantly looking at ways to help promote the market to residents and visitors alike, and despite shopping habits having changed dramatically in the last decade our provisions market still offers a good service.”

“We want Newport Market to be a success and we are working with partners Newport Norse and the market traders on a strategy to encourage more people to shop there,” she said.

Conservative group leader councillor Matthew Evans said it is in everyone’s interest that the market has a bright future.

Having spoken to traders, he said there is increased dissatisfaction and frustration, and a meeting needs to be held soon, to find solutions.

Independent group councillor Chris Evans said he has asked an urgent question about the state of the market toilets, and the standards of maintenance and hygiene.

His question also mentions rumours that drug addicts are injecting in the toilets and asks what procedures are in place to prevent them becoming a “shooting gallery”.

Referring to recent city summits, he added: “Meetings in five-star hotels with corporate types are all very well and good, but we need to look after the little guys too.

“Our market traders and small business are the backbone of our economy and they deserve better than stinking toilets.”

Annette Farmer, who started the petition, claimed that two weeks ago a woman found passed out in the toilets, and had to be resuscitated by a cleaner.

Councillor Wilcox said the market “has been identified as a key priority for consideration with the draft city centre masterplan currently out for consultation, demonstrating the council’s long term commitment to this important building and its businesses.”

She added that the market building received a £1 million refurbishment in 2013, with further investment since, while market rents are regularly reviewed., and a review of the application process, to make it simpler to be a stallholder, is also being investigated. Traders are kept up to date through a weekly drop-in surgery and a newsletter.

“Rents charged by private landlords in the city centre also have a wide range, but are often based on long-term lease contracts. The rateable value of shops that front onto city centre streets will also vary considerably from the rateable value of a market stall, which often benefits from rate relief,” she said.

“Both Newport Market and privately owned shops can provide business opportunities that meet the needs of different business models, and a vibrant city centre will attract entrepreneurs who can see the benefit of both models and operating arrangements.”

A council spokeswoman said allegations that public toilets in the market are being used by drug addicts are a matter for police.

“The toilets are cleaned daily by Norse staff who have in the past had to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour.” she added. “A plan to improve facilities is being considered.”